It might be time for some religious training for the brave stewards and stewardesses that fly the lately not-so-friendly skies.
In what was dubbed by police a “security situation,” a Chautauqua Airlines flight from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Louisville, Kentucky was diverted to Philadelphia this morning when an observant seventeen-year-old from White Planes tried to put on tefillin. Or as Philadelphia police Lt. Frank Vanore described the “religious device”: a set of small black boxes attached to leather straps and containing biblical passages.
According to news reports, a stewardess became alarmed when the boy stood up and started wrapping them on, alerting the Transportation Administration Authority of a “disruptive passenger” and triggering the stop in Philly. The flight attendant had simply never seen tefillin before.
Since the Jewish world is constantly in our sights, it seems incredible that anyone would mistake those little black boxes for anything suspicious.
But, in this case, we might have to agree with FBI spokesman J.J. Klaver who said, of tefillin: “It’s something that the average person is not going to see very often, if ever.”
Aboard Plane, Tefillin Causes 'Security Situation'
Gal Beckerman was a staff writer and then the Forward’s opinion editor until 2014. He was previously an assistant editor at the Columbia Journalism Review where he wrote essays and media criticism. His book reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review and Bookforum. His first book, “When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry,” won the 2010 National Jewish Book Award and the 2012 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, as well as being named a best book of the year by The New Yorker and The Washington Post. Follow Gal on Twitter at @galbeckerman