Tefillin Terrorism Scare

A U.S. Airways flight leaving LaGuardia for Louisville was diverted when a flight attendant saw a young man strapping an apparatus with wires to himself.

This strappy apparatus was tefillin.

Tefillin is  ritual wear for weekday prayers, commonly worn by Jewish men–and recently, women.

The boxes contain a scroll with 4 verses.

From Beliefnet:

Exodus 13:1-10: Kadesh Li — the duty of the Jewish people to remember the redemption from Egyptian bondage.

Exodus 13:11-16: Ve-haya Ki Yeviakha — the obligation of every Jew to inform his children on these matters.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9: Shema — pronouncing the unity of the One God.

Deuteronomy 11:13-21: Ve-haya Im Shamoa — God’s assurance of reward for observance of the Torah’s precepts and warning of retribution for disobedience.

Did anyone ask what he was doing or listen to his explanation of the purpose of the tefillin?

It is perfectly reasonable for the flight attendant to be aware, to be concerned about suspicious actions; it is more than reasonable to expect flight attendants to be informed about religious/cultural wear–especially if it looks as suspicious as tefillin apparently does to those unfamiliar with Judaism.

Unfortunately, this incident contributes to the socio-cultural ‘othering’ of religious minorities. This is a high profile case of disrespectful religious ignorance.


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