(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)