Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tefilin Again Cause Terrorist Scare, This Time On New Zealand Ferry

Last January, An airplane headed from LaGuardia Airport to Louisville made an emergency landing in Philadelphia International Airport because a 17-year-old student from White Plains was putting on his tefilin before saying his morning prayers on the plane.  The student was questioned by airline personnel, who thought that the black leather boxes and straps were a bomb that the student was strapping on.  

The incident got a lot of publicity, and probably made it easier for observant airline passengers to go about their business without a hassle.  But apparently the word didn't travel to New Zealand, where a "tefilin bomb" was spotted on Sunday aboard the inter-island ferry and caused a terror scare.

As Mary Longmore reported in the NZHerald,
A devout Israeli tourist aboard the Interisland ferry Kaitaki sparked a bomb scare and police armed offenders' alert today after the ship's captain spotted boxes and what looked like wires taped to the man.
"One individual had two boxes attached, one box taped to his leg and one box seemingly taped to his forehead," Kiwirail spokesman Kevin Ramshaw told NZPA.
Jewish websites describe a traditional prayer ritual where a small black leather box called a "tefillin" containing verses from the bible is taped to the arm and forehead.
"These may well have been part of religious observance, but to people who are involved in the travel business, there were what seemed to be wires attached to them."
Mr Ramshaw said the captain then followed normal procedure by notifying police of his suspicions, sparking an armed offenders' alert in Picton.  The crew then spent a nervous three hours closely observing the man as they sailed the Cook Strait, to avoid mass panic.
Here's a video report from New Zealand TV about the incident, followed by a video report from the Philadelphia incident earlier this year.  Note that in the Philadelphia interview, the Chief Inspector refers to the tefilin as an "olfactory."  Well, that smells about right.  The English term for tefilin is "phylactery."

1 comment:

  1. I remember the Philadelphia issue but it's AMAZING how there wasn't a Jew in the crew or on board to stop them and say something!

    I love how Teffilin is called a "device" now.