December 15th, 2010

green leaves

The world as written by The Onion and/or the TSA

The so-called “Tefillin Bomber”, as Jews are enjoying calling him, is the news item du jour, given that panic arising from a 17-year-old Orthodox Jew’s so-called “strange” activities onboard a New York-Louisville flight freaked out surrounding passengers enough to have the plane diverted to Philadelphia…because they didn’t know that he was praying. That, of course, raises the question of just how to tell people what happened. Who knows what tefillin are, and how do you explain that to the masses?

The first stories to hit the wires reliably used the term “phylacteries,” a handy English word for the pair of leather prayer boxes and straps many Jews have been using in morning prayers for thousands of years.

But that begs the humorous anecdote: if they don’t know what tefillin are, they certainly won’t have any idea what a phylactery is. Interestingly enough, the reason almost anyone knows what a phylactery is is because Jews traveling with tefillin have been stopped by airport security for decades with the weird square items showing up on x-rays; to provide an explanation, one could simply say “oh, those are phylacteries, they’re used for prayer.” And the look of non-comprehension on the part of the security personnel was just part of the experience of traveling as an observant Jew.

Side joke: where do they make tefillin? In a phylactery factory, of course.

I checked, and it's based on a real news story.

Link thanks to faithhopetricks.

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