SHOCK VIDEO: Toronto Airport Agent Takes Apart Jewish Traveler’s Tefillin; ‘These Are Odd’

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(VIDEO IN EXTENDED ARTICLE)

YWN has received disturbing footage of an agent at Toronto’s Pearson airport taking apart a Jewish traveler’s Tefillin for a thorough examination, a tactic usually reserved for suspicious packages.

The footage, shot last week, shows the clueless agent unraveling the straps of both the Shel Yad and Shel Rosh and opening the boxes containing the Battim.

The traveler, who was enroute to Los Angeles, tells YWN that before the recording began he had clearly informed the agent of the Tefillin’s religious significance, but the agent had still insisted on inspecting the Tefillin. The traveler said the agent also refused his offer to open it himself and show him the contents.

As can be seen on the video, once the agent began to open the boxes containing the Battim, the traveler once again requested to handle the religious items himself and was again refused. His request to speak with a manager was also denied.

The traveler tells YWN he tried to remain respectful but was clearly agitated as his holy Tefillin were being treated with little regard. The agents remark, “these do kind of strike me as a bit odd,” was also hurtful.

The TSA at airports in the Tri-State area and beyond are trained to recognize and respect Tefillin. While it is unknown if agents at Toronto airports receive such guidance, one would hope that when being clearly informed of an item’s religious significance, a traveler could at least be granted a chance to speak with a manager. Here’s hoping for some much needed change at the airport.

(Nat Golden – YWN)




63 COMMENTS

  1. Hard to imagine he’d never seen tefillin before; unless it was his first day on the job. Even then, he was probably briefed. My guess is he knew what they were and really was curious to see them up close. So he pretended that they were “odd” as an excuse to see them. Not the most professional, but not a big deal either. He didn’t appear to be manhandling them. Let’s not get all up in arms.

  2. It seems the thing the agent did wrong was refuse to let the passenger talk to a supervisor. The agent was respectful and contrary to the YWN report the passenger was not clearly agitated; he was calm and obviously understood that arguing would not help the situation. Certainly the agents conduct can and should be questioned but for his refusal to call a supervisor not for checking an item he had never seen before.

  3. It is odd that he wasn’t briefed on this and i feel bad for this fried guy.However dont blame the inspector for not knowing about its religious symbol/article. Think about it, any arab can pull off this same shtick, so why should he trust anyone if he wasnt told. Blame his superiors

  4. Sorry from this video i do not see any disrespect from the officers. He just checked it and let him go.
    I once travelled to London and my Tzitzis was sticking out from my back while going to the bathroom and the stewaddres became so hsterical thinking i am blowing myself up. She alerted the copilot who i explained whats all about and he made me remove it and show him its not hooked up to any device…
    Sorry we are religious people but most of the world is not and some goyim have NO clue in our tradition, so lets not label every incident anti-semitism

  5. With all the real problems Klal Yisroel has now, there is no reason to pretend things like this are so bad. Yes, he probably should have been better trained, but he was not disrespectful. When people feign outrage every time something is slightly bothersome, no-one listens to them when real egregious things happen. Lets restrain our faux outrage.

  6. About 20 years ago I was in the Vienna, Austria airport and had a much more harrowing experience.
    The metal detectors went off as I walked thru. I was surrounded by police and army personnel and they
    determined that the only place that set off the alarm was coming from my tallis and tefillin bag!
    So they carefully opened it and found my tefillin. They were about to slice them open when I remembered my
    Tzedaka bag which was also in the talis bag. Once I showed them the coins they retested the Tefillin for metal
    and let me go when no further metal was discovered.
    MORAL of the STORY: Don’t use coins for Tzedaka only use PAPER MONEY !

  7. Given the high risk of even small amounts of explosives being smuggled on to a plane, the “clueless” security agent was clearly within the rules to examine what to him were “strange’ items. Yes, he provbably should have called for a suprvisor. but the traveler should feel better that the agent was thorough in his inspection than worrying abou the teffilin which can be replaced if they were damaged. Most TSA agents in the U.S. , especially those at airports in cities with significant numbers of yidden, have been trained to recognize items like arba minim, etc. This doesn’t seem to be a case of deliberate anti-semitic harassment and protecting against explosive devices should take precedence.

  8. My advice, next time just say you’re a Muslim and this is your Holy haddid objects etc. These Canadians will surely be much more cooperative..

  9. Nearly exact same thing happened to me in airport in South Carolina. Agent was clueless. Just like here. One feels very helpless in such a situation.

  10. YWN does it again. Sensational title with not much of a story.
    The officer does not seem condescending in any way and his comment that the teffilin look odd: to someone who doesn’t know what teffilin is, they do! He wasn’t disrespectful in any way! A bit ignorant: so what!

  11. Whenever I get such questions I always say “it’s in the bible, exodus…” which turns the whole thing around! now they feel stupit (most of them) that they know nothing about it. Same goes for Esrog, Matzah, Tzitzis, shabbos etc.

  12. I see nothing wrong in what the agent was doing. He was very respectful and was following protocol. Once the TSA open the bag, they never allow the passenger to touch anything at all. Maybe the only concern is that TSA officials should be taught what tefillin are.

  13. I have to say, after watching the video, BOTH the passenger and the agent were QUITE respectful. Granted, I have to say the way the story was written, especially the sensational journalism SHOCK headline here, I was very concerned. I was really expecting a rosha m’rusha agent and an excited misheluni.

  14. Considering that such remarks and even jokes have fetched full-fledged major trials in Canada under their so-called human rights laws, I wonder if this guys comments would warrant a full investigation.

  15. While it’s true the TSA agent did “open” your teffillin, the way you described it sounded like he opened the batim themselves which would have been far worse. Look at the cup half full, wouldn’t you want him to go through something that looked suspicious rather than just letting it go through and something far worse could have occurred?

  16. The traveler should hire the best Jewish lawyer in Canada and sue the pants off these people! Liberal Canada would surely bend over backwards for such religious intolerance. This sheigetz also just signed his ticket to gehenom.

  17. We had the same at LAX… except the clearly curious agent seemed to know they were a seemingly mysterious religious object. After going through the Tefillin, he offered to “put it all back”, which we politely refused.
    We found it hard to believe he’d never seen Tefillin either, though he did seem kind of new…

  18. YWN makes these dramatic headlines on a slow news day so that they can show their advertisers how many clicks they received even on a slow news day

  19. What’s shocking is only the headline and the tone of the article. The reporter makes it sound as if the batim themselves were opened. That the agent examined articles that he’s never seen before to protect hundreds — that’s his job. Both the agent and traveler were respectful. Would it be upsetting to see my tefillin gone through — sure. But, the problem here is the article and headline — nothing more than click-bait. Not worthy of this website’s normal standards.

  20. Curious….you declare that:
    “This sheigetz also just signed his ticket to gehenom…”
    Well, perhaps you can get some frequent flyer miles as well since by your horrible and hateful posting, you just purchased your own non-refundable ticket to the same destination. Just about every poster agrees that this security agent was doing his job and was not deliberately trying to desecrate an item know to have kedushah.

  21. From Wikipedia:
    According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.

    Now my dear friends, let me ask you, does a TSA agent (who BTW was doing his job respectfully) have know all customs of all 4,200 religions? or maybe only all Jewish customs?

    If we take it for-granted that all official non-Jewish people know what Tefillin are, we are obviously “Shockingly” ignorant!

    Nat Golden? … Time to grow up!

  22. Overall, I find 99% of TSA agents and airline personnel very understanding and tolerant of frum yidden in the “stuff” we insist on carrying through security and on to airplanes, our need to stand in the aisles and daven on flights in the air (sometimes at higher volumes than necessary) etc. Yes, there are a few anti-semitim, but I find them to be a distinct minority. I’ve seen more brogias involving frum yidden and flight personnel on El Al flights than on UAL, Delta or American flights into EY.

  23. I don’t recall commenting on YWN before but felt the need. I found the officer to be respectful and nice.
    He was unfamiliar with Teffilin which is understandable and wanted to examine them. After a brief delay, he let the guy go. Better be safe than sorry.

  24. Oh come on. This agent is a convert waiting to happen. That guy is DYING to know more and even probably wanted to see how they go on.

  25. I actually work for a security company in the Toronto airport (Not CATSA), and am deeply disturbed with the tone of this article. I think it’s worth noting that Toronto Pearson actually has packaged kosher sandwiches and salads available throughout BOTH terminals. I would like to discuss this further with YWN as I feel compelled to show both the video and the written article to the appropriate people at the airport. This is nothing other than slander.

  26. I totally don’t understand the excuses being given here. In ultra-tolerant Canada, he’d be locked up and fired if he said “that’s odd” to a Muslim. Canada, not the United States. Letting him off is creating a double standard in intolerance.

  27. i have two comments:
    1. Fake news
    2. I wonder if the writer of this article even saw the video before writing this article. if he did, he should not be allowed to write for you anymore. Just some rebel rousing writing – who if were a non-jew writing about a Jew would be called an Anti Semite. why don’t you proof your articles before you post them?

  28. Misleading clickbait headline. After reading it, I was waiting for him to pull out the stitching and open the batim. All he did was unwind the straps, open the boxes, and look at the tefillin. He did not “take the tefillin apart”.

  29. The agent was polite as was the bochur. Definitely a misleading headline, designed to get everyone all riled up. It’s not like he took a pocket knife & slit them open. I’m surprised at you, YWN!

    Personally, I’m more concerned about being told I can’t take my CPAP machine as an extra piece of hand luggage – it could easily get smashed in the hold & I don’t have 6,000 nis to buy a new one.

    Leave the agent alone. He did his job, he was respectful and curious. Irritating, but that’s life.

  30. @hml: Which airline barred you from carrying your CPAP as additional hand luggage? I use a CPAP, and I want to make sure to avoid any airline that has such a policy.

  31. Is the guy checking him a Muslim? What irony that we have Muslims checking us at airport security… I was once in London and had a Pakistani woman check me, I told her I should be checking her, needless to say she wasn’t impressed with my sense of humour…

  32. I had a similar incident at London Heathrow, terminal 3 this past Tuesday, March 6 – the agent wanted to through my tefillin (not the first time this has happened in to me at Heathrow), but I got the agent to put the tefillin down, and a manager was called – who basically did nothing, except try to excuse the behavior of the agent.

  33. To Moneyshechita:
    “…What irony that we have Muslims checking us at airport security…”
    Fairly stupid comment? There are hundreds of muslims serving as TSA security agents at airports throughou the U.S. They have been thoroughly vetted for security just like every other agent. There are many yidden who have been tried and convicted for betraying their country. Should yidden be denied an opportunity to serve as security screeners?

  34. I get it that yeshivas don’t teach jouornalism skills but this article is shameful.The guy is doing his job and the video documents it as such. Please take down this story.

  35. Sorry, but nothing wrong with what the agent did, and I expected much worse from the headline. As an aside, once we took a very early morning flight and my husband had to put his tefillin on during the flight. He explained to the stewardess before we took off what he would be doing so that there would be no alarm at seeing someone with a black box attached to his head. Makes sense to pre-empt in these situations, after all why should the average goy be familiar with tephillin?

  36. It’s not only the trip state area that has religious Jews flying through their airports. I bet there’s dozens of tefillin that are brought to the Toronto airport each day…it’s the biggest city in Canada.

  37. I had a different situation when crossing the Vermont border. I had several schach mats in the car and they asked me what they were. Without hesitation I walked inside and we googled it showing them what we use them for!

    The reason they asked us to come inside was so that we can be exempt from payment taxes of ‘wood fences

    How nice?

  38. I don’t usually comment but I think you’re going a bit too far to say that his Tefillin were “taken apart”.
    He opened the cover and looked inside that’s it.
    I think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill!

  39. This is not news worthy at all. The only mistake he made was not to call a supervisor. Otherwise he was doing his job and did nothing wrong. I hate it when people post things and accuse everyone of being anti Semitic. There are real anti Semitics and using that phrase on everyone everywhere takes away the legitimacy from it. I find it really sad that this is what makes the news. So much is going on right now and real anti Semitic is happening, yet we have to focus on this.
    Stop making Jews look like the victims. Yes, there are people that hate us but we live in America not Russia, we are allowed to practice our faith without being afraid, for that we have to be thankful, so stop trying to make it seem that the system is rigged against us. In addition your headline is completely inaccurate, he did not “take apart” the tiffilin, and yes if he said “these are odd” that is no excuse to go jumping down his back. hate to break it to you but having black leather straps attached to two boxes isn’t something people see on an everyday basis.The only thing I did find suspicious is when he asked him if he puts the box around his arm, if he never saw one before how would he know. People don’t automatically assume that boxes go on peoples arms. Even so, the big dramatic headlines was not called for and Yeshiva news, please try to find something worthy to write about, don’t bore us all by showing these ridiculous instances and provoking with flashy headlines. If your point is to get loads of comments this is a really bad way of doing it. maybe put on something instreasting and you will find that you get the same amount of publicity.

  40. To mmatitya – I am waiting for a response from Easyjet (I’m flying to UK) if I can take my machine as another piece of hand luggage. I guess I’ll be waiting till I arrive at the gate.

  41. @hml: Thanks for the info! Please update when you get a final answer — it’s very inportant info for me, and for many other people who need to travel with CPAP devices.

  42. Agree with almost everyone here. He acted very respectful and the shock headline is ridiculous. I am embarrassed for the guy who stood there videoing the entire thing watching and waiting for something shockworthy.

  43. Curiosity, you should be ashamed of yourself using a pejorative for a non-Jewish man! How would you like it if someone called you by an insulting word for a Jew?

    Monseyschita, yasher koach on your chillul Hashem.