Two months after a Jewish teen from White Plains was detained and briefly handcuffed after wearing his tefillin during morning prayers on a Kentucky-bound flight, the Transportation Security Administration has added information about the leather boxes and straps to briefing materials for security officials across the country.
TSA earlier, at the urging of Agudath Israel of America, offered guidance for screening procedures to security personnel at who encounter men wearing tefillin, which are unfamiliar to many non-Jews. Agudah produced a brochure that explained Jewish prayer, rituals and customs.
“We are gratified by the TSA’s sensitivity on this issue,” said Rabbi Abba Cohen, Agudah’s Washington representative.
Rabbi Avi Shafran, an Agudah spokesman, said the addition to TSA briefing materials is not necessarily related to the arrest in November of a17-year-old boy whose praying with tefillin on his US Airways flight from LaGuardia Airport caused the flight to be diverted to Philadelphia. A nervous flight attendant informed the cockpit that a passenger had “an item wrapped around his head, straps or wires.”
The TSA action was “in the hopper” before the US Airways incident, Rabbi Shafran said.