Thursday, January 21, 2010

Plane Diverted Because of Tefillin Scare



A Jewish passenger on a flight from Louisville to New York inadvertently sparked a security scare during the flight, which was diverted to Philadelphia for an emergency stop. JTA reported as follows.

(JTA) -- A commercial flight was diverted to Philadelphia after a Jewish passenger's tefillin were mistaken for a bomb.

"A passenger on the US Air flight Thursday from New York to Louisville mistook the religious prayer article as a bomb after the Jewish passenger had taken them out to pray, according to reports.

Tefillin consist of two boxes each on a strap of leather.

The passengers and crew were taken off the plane in Philadelphia. Fire trucks and police met the plane on the runway."


On Israeli flights and flights with a lot of Jewish
passengers, the sight of Jewish men wearing tefillin (phylacteries) is a common sight. One leather box is strapped to the head, worn above and between the eyes. The other is strapped to the arm. The boxes contain hand written parchments with biblical verses inscribed upon them, most notably the "Shma" prayer (Hear oh Israel, the L-rd our G-d the L-rd is one.

The boxes express the devotion of the intellect and physical strength to G-dly service. They are worn every day during the morning prayers by Jewish men over the age of 13. Married men also wear a talit. (prayer shawl)Some communities also have a custom of wearing a talit after the age of 13.

Although Tefillin can be put on all day to fulfill the obligation to wear them, they can not be put on at night.

The most famous depiction of talit and tefillin is in Marc Chagall's painting called "The Praying Jew".

It would be wise for airline security in the US to consult with their Israeli counterparts to gain familiarity with this custom.

The 17 year old boy who was detained as well as the airline security and law enforcement officials involved should be commended for working together to clear up any misunderstanding . Sphere: Related Content

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