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Tefillin Prompts Panic on Plane, Again

Phylactery: It comes in peace

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A tefillin-wrapping.(Israeltripsandother/Flickr)

Yesterday, on an Alaska Airlines flight from Mexico City to Los Angeles, three Jewish men wrapping themselves with tefillin prompted the pilots to lock down the cabin and alert authorities at LAX, who met the men for questioning afterward. Turns out plain wood leather boxes connected with wrapping are innocuous prayer paraphernalia, and not a way for Orthodox Jews to bomb an Alaska Airlines flight as payback for inflicting Sarah Palin on the world in an extremely indirect manner.

Folks will remember this all happened last year in Philadelphia, too.

U.S. Pilots Trigger ‘Terror’ Alert over Orthodox Jews’ Tefillin Ritual [AP/Haaretz]
Earlier: After Tefillin Scare, A Need for Education

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Hershel (Heshy) Ginsburg says:

Tracy, you are really factually challenged today. For the record, Tefillin are not wood boxes (“plane” or otherwise) but are made of leather, which has been processed to be hard leather so that the shape of the box and the internal dividers (for the head Tefilla) is maintained.

Even Wikipedia gets it right: Indeed you may want to consider using Wikipedia for some basic fact checking.


Merlee says:

I’m don’t want to get flamed, but in the shadow of other incidents, why aren’t the people in question(the ones who are about to pray) notifying the flight attendants that they will be using these objects BEFORE they pray.

And I am fairly certain that a forgiving G-d would let the prayers wait until the plane landed. And then they could add a prayer of thanks for a safe landing.

I have little sympathy for the those who caused this incident as it could have easily been avoided.

Michael says:

I’m an orthodox Jew who puts on tefillin every day and I totally agree with Merlee. It is the height of egocentrism and insensitivity not to realize how bizarre this looks to the outsider. The mitzvah of putting on teffillin while typically done in the morning, can be fulfilled all day long, so there’s rarely a need on a typical flight to disturb people in this way.

I’ve put on tefillin in some unusual environments, and as far as I’m concerned it’s just common sense – and courtesy – to be prepared to explain what’s going on to bystanders.

And it might surprise Marc to learn that some of us who are familiar with tefillin – and, like, actually know what they are – are also admirers of Sarah Palin.

Marc Tracy says:

@Hershel as you’ve no doubt guessed, I’m not a regular tefillin-wearer, but have put them on several dozen times and never noticed this. should’ve paid more attention!

Michael says:

Good point Asher. I too am a fan of Sarah.

I wonder if people tend to panic too fast, or maybe its lack of knowledge about Jewish customs and traditions. I agree that one should explain to the nearby crowed (especially on airplanes…) of what he is doing when wearing the Teffilin. The fact that WE know what is Teffilin, does not mean that others do.

Gladys says:

I just travelled all over North America with my boss who is an observant guy and daily tefillin wrapper – he specifically did NOT ever put on tefillin on the plane because it is obviously going to cause a problem. People do not know what they are and why should they? It is nice to educate people but not in an airplane in 2011 by demonstration method. People are going around feeling scared. It takes forever to get through the security and if you get the full treatment you feel like you are entering prison. I understand we need security – the actual benefits of all the scanning is a debate for a different time – but the bottom line is that it puts people on edge. Wrap your tefillin BEFORE or AFTER your plane ride – at home or in your hotel, etc. If you are a bit late, pretend you are a Lubavitcher. No offense intended – we are Chabadniks ourselves :-)


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Tefillin Prompts Panic on Plane, Again

Phylactery: It comes in peace

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