New York Flight Diverted Over Praying Jewish Teenager

A US Airway flight from New York was diverted and the bomb squad called after a Jewish teenager was caught . . . praying. The teen was praying with a traditional tefillin on the flight and said that he explained the practice, but the flight crew went into full alert on Flight 3079.

The tefillin are a couple of small cubic leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah connected with leather straps. The 17-year-old boy was confronted by the crew, which said that it did not “receive a clear response.” The teen was traveling with his 16-year-old sister.

This is not first case of a flight being diverted by prayer. Notably, the earlier controversy over praying Imams involved USAirways, here.

There are also reports of Muslims being told to choose between praying and flying, here.

There is now a move to allow “prayer sections” on flights the way we once had smoking sections, here.

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7 thoughts on “New York Flight Diverted Over Praying Jewish Teenager”

  1. At this point, it can no longer be reasonable argued that anti-Arab/Islamic racism is not antisemitism.

  2. rafflaw: “this was a huge over reaction to an every day event around the world.”

    So is wearing shoes. Just sayn’

  3. This flight crew must have been blind to not see that this was a huge over reaction to an every day event around the world. Have they never seen someone pray before? Have we lost all common sense?

  4. I am sympathetic to both sides of this event.

    I think flight attendants should be made aware of religious rituals, so that this type of event can be avoided. That said, a flight attendant that observes suspicious activity (even if it is only suspicious due to ignorance) should take action.

    Remember the old adage? “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

    It’s the suspicious activity, that goes unreported, that ends in disasster, and then nobody is around to report it.

  5. As an observant Jew, I am constantly concerned that my time-limited obligation to put on tefillin will put me in the same situation as this young man. Men are obligated to wear tefillin and a prayer shawl (the latter if they are married) during morning prayer. There is a relatively narrow window for doing this — e.g. tefillin cannot be worn until there is at least the beginning of dawn’s light in the sky. Often that means I have to put it on at the airport or on the plane. I have done both, but not without receiving suspicious stares from airline employees and fellow passengers. Just this past week I took an early flight and decided it would be better if I postponed wearing tefillin until after the flight to avoid the possible security hassle.

    In some airports, this is not an unusual sight, though, and TSA employees seem to be very aware of what a set of tefillin looks like and that it is harmless. Most Orthodox Jews I’ve spoken to about this story have said they are surprised that any flight attendant could be so ignorant; on international flights it is very common to see observant Jewish males putting on tefillin and often praying in the back of the plane with a relatively large group of other Jewish males. Perhaps it is not fair to assume that flight attendants on a commuter flight to Kentucky would be able to distinguish tefillin boxes and leather straps from an explosive device and wires, but one would think it might come up even once in their training.

  6. WTF.

    BTW there is nothing to click at the end of the story.

    “For the full story, click “

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