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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Good grief! Tefillin cause New York - Louisville flight to be diverted

A 17-year old boy took out his Tefillin (phylactories - see picture) to pray on a morning flight from New York to Louisville on Thursday and someone decided they were a bomb. As a result, the plane was diverted to Philadelphia.
City police Lt. Frank Vanore said a 17-year-old boy on the plane was using tefillin.

Tefillin is a set of small black boxes attached to leather straps and containing biblical passages. One box is strapped to the arm; the other box is placed on the head.

Vanore said the crew on US Airways Flight 3079 questioned the teen, who explained the ritual. Still, the pilot decided to land in Philadelphia.

The flight had left La Guardia airport in New York on Thursday morning bound for Louisville, Kentucky. It landed without incident in Philadelphia around 9 a.m.

Vanore said the teen has been very cooperative with law enforcement.
I'll bet he was - the poor kid was probably scared out of his mind.

Why did the boy pray on the plane? Probably because it wasn't light out until he was on the plane or in the airport terminal, and there are limits on how early you can pray the morning service. I pray on planes all the time, and I put on my Tefillin on planes all the time, as do hundreds of Orthodox Jews. I am astounded that on a flight out of New York - LaGuardia there are people who have no clue what Tefillin are.

In an incident similar to this one shortly after 9/11, a plane bound for New York from Atlanta was diverted to Charlotte, North Carolina because two Orthodox Jews with their tzitzith hanging out of their shirts started praying on the plane. At least neither this incident nor Thursday's incident took place on a Friday.

When are people in the US going to wake up to the fact that there are no Orthodox Jewish terrorists? In fact, there are no Jewish terrorists and no Christian terrorists and no atheist terrorists. Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all the terrorists are Muslims. It's time to act accordingly.


Forgot to add here that one of the most satisfying moments of my life was putting on my Tefillin to pray in the business class section of a 5:30 am Tel Aviv - Frankfurt Lufthansa flight about ten years ago.


Here's a Philadelphia television news report on the incident - I feel sorry for the kid (and his 16-year old sister who was apparently with him).

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: NY Nana).

If they'd been Muslims, all US Air flight attendants would have been forced to go to 'sensitivity training,' but since they're only Orthodox Jews, that won't happen. If I sound contemptuous, it's because I am. US Air started flying non-stop to Israel last summer from Philadelphia - remind me to avoid them.

Here's another report from WABC New York. Let's go to the videotape.

I think the whole story is ridiculous. The kid couldn't clearly explain it because he can't interrupt his prayers at certain points. And he probably prayed on the plane because - as I noted earlier - the sun rises late in New York at this time of year (around 7:30 if I recall correctly). It was a 7:30 flight so it probably was too early to pray in the terminal before he got on the plane (and by the way - Louisville is not such a short flight from New York - I've been there - so I'm TOTALLY unimpressed by the 'expert' from Boro Park. Where did they find him?).

Personally, my prayers are timed so that I hit the main part of the prayer at sunrise wherever I am (and yes, I pray sitting down in flight - not standing up). And I'm not going to change that because some moron decides that after my Tefillin have gone through security (and frequently set off the TSA people in the US who run them through again and again) there's a bomb inside them. That's absurd.


At 11:38 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Read the article about an hour ago ,i couldn't understand also why the pilot reacted in such a way.
You would think that at least one of the staff has some brains or education?

At 11:47 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Sorry to prove you wrong, but not all terrorists are Muslim. In fact, some of the worst terrorist act in Israel's history have been performed by or with the assistance of the Japanese and Europeans.

At 1:37 AM, Blogger Moriah said...

Yes, if there's one thing more terrifying that flaming BVD's it Tefillin ...sigh ...

Leah, like the old and apropos chiche...."Not all Muslims are terrorists but all, and I mean all terrorists in 2010 not 1400's, not 1940's - are Muslim ..."

At 2:04 AM, Blogger Lois Koenig said...


I am still livid. When they started talking about it on the news,radio and TV, they were not very polite...laughing at different tries at pronouncing 'Tefillin'.

The boy and his sister live about 15 minutes from us. And the frum man from Brooklyn? He souded like a plant when I read what he said.

We are not Orthodox, as you know, but this enraged us. I will not soon forget this, and I hope that the airline suffers for it.

I will not forget this any time soon, and also ask family and friends to not use US Airways.

No, we are not terrorists, but the 'security' in US airports think we are, while ignoring the muslims who very well might be.

Thanks for the hat tip...it is still very hard to digest what to me is pure Jew hate.

At 3:17 AM, Blogger Unknown said...


At 6:24 AM, Blogger Samson said...

Here's a comment about this story from the liberal Jewish Israel-hating (although he claims otherwise) blogger Richard Silverstein, with a link to this story on Israel Matzav:

"Here’s a response typical of the Jewish know-nothing Islamophobic blog world:

"When are people in the US going to wake up to the fact that there are no Orthodox Jewish terrorists? In fact, there are no Jewish terrorists and no Christian terrorists and no atheist terrorists. Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all the terrorists are Muslims."

He calls his website "Tikun Olam: Make the World a Better Place."


He has multiple degrees in Hebrew and Yiddish literature and claims to be a "progressive (critical) Zionist," but I have difficulty finding anything but articles on his website that are not only critical of Israel, but openly hostile toward it. This includes, of course, expressing nothing but contempt for Israel's rescue and medical contributions to Haiti.

Does this deserve a response?

P.S.: Yes, Leah is correct, Japanese and European terrorists have, on several occasions, joined in with Palestinian and Islamist terrorists (e.g., Entebbe hijacking and Lod Airport Massacre). There are also European terrorists acting on their own behalf (ETA, IRA). The former are relatively rare, and the latter are not in the habit of attempting terrorist activities on airplanes and/or in the US. There have even been US-based terrorist groups such as the FALN, although that particular group is no longer active. So, from a practical point of view, the statement derided by Richard "Tikun Olam" Silverstein is still apropos.

At 7:34 AM, Blogger Tammy Watts said...

Well, let the Jews know how it feels. It's about time someone else got picked on beside Muslims and Arabs. The only difference is that this kid probably has hot shot lawyers already lined up to sue the airline.

At 7:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can understand the mistake in this day and age.

Generally, I've always tried to avoid putting on my Tefilin on board, whenever possible, except for any flights to/from Israel, where this is quite a norm.

I always carry my Tefilin in my hand luggage. Only once, somewhere in Europe (I don't recall which country), did my Tefilin arouse suspicion and I was asked to open the Tefilin bag itself.

At 9:36 PM, Blogger yMew88 said...

I can't resist the temptation to mention here that I first saw a story about this incident on a Russian (non-Israeli) web site where the story was presented as gee-whiz sort of thing. I could not believe it and did a Google search. Up came this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qdw8gG9EwRs&feature= player_ embedded#
Listen carefully around 51 sec. mark... Olefactories?!!!
Shabbat Shalom!

At 1:32 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Our Rabbi told us about the incident on the last Shabath. I gotta state I'm not religious by all means.

Yes, this is probably a reaction brought upon this new "age of terrorism" we live in. Plus tefillim are not something you see on a constant basis (even in NY), so I can understand how someone who doesn't know what it is, and sees a young boy strapping himself and praying in an odd language, in a plane, can be somewhat discerning. It was bound to happen.

But still, relax. HAVE A LAUGH! You're gonna die a sour prune otherwise.


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