WHEN Rabbi Yehuda Niasoff was needed for a bris in the north coast NSW town of Mullumbimby last month, he didn’t want to catch a commercial flight due to the potential risk of a COVID-19 positive passenger putting him into isolation and out of action as chazan of Sydney’s Central Synagogue over the High Holy Days.
Fortunately, Rabbi Niasoff – who is also a choirmaster, a musician, shochet and as it happens, a student pilot – had another solution. He borrowed a Piper Cherokee aircraft from his flying school at Bankstown Aerodrome and together with an instructor, flew there himself.
“It was a gorgeous day. The whole flight was absolutely stunning,” he said.
“I did all the flying while my instructor did the navigating.”
Rabbi Niasoff said the flight took about three-and-a-half hours – in addition to a fuel stop in Taree – each way.
As for the bris itself, he said, “I spent a lot of time talking to them beforehand … we had several video calls. I was therefore able to perform the bris and be in and out of the house in under an hour.”
He said he took up flying seriously a few years ago after friends at a shiur he gives bought him flying lessons as a gift.
“I like the mental stimulation of it, I enjoy the skill. I’m the type of person that enjoys taking on new challenges,” he said.
“I always wanted to be able to do it, I’ve always enjoyed it. It’s good fun yet it requires serious concentration – it takes a lot of mental work and coordination, and it’s nice to use it in my rabbinic duties. That makes it more rewarding.”
Rabbi Niasoff said he still has a while to go before he gets his full licence.
“It’s an enjoyable hobby I like doing in my spare time at least once or twice a month.”