A photo of an Ultra Orthodox Jewish man wrapped in a life-size plastic bag aboard an airplane recently went viral on news-sharing site Reddit, sparking an intense debate concerning his motives.
At first it was believed that the man had donned the bizarre see-through garb to distance himself from women, as some Ultra-Orthodox Jews obey strict rules of gender segregation in public. Now, however, it is believed the man dressed entirely in black and wearing a Jewish skullcap or “kippah” may be a member of the Kohanim, who believe they are descended from the priests of ancient Israel and cannot come in close contact with dead in order to protect their higher-than-average kedushah (holiness). Apparently, the strict religious code prohibits visiting cemeteries except for the funerals of close relatives, and even flying over burial grounds. However, the Haaretz newspaper reports that Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv, leader of the Lithuanian Haredi community in Israel, has recently “found a solution to this issue, ruling that wrapping oneself in thick plastic bags while the plane crossed over the cemetery is permissible”, which would explain the man’s bizarre protective travel gear.