Why Has Customs at Ben-Gurion Changed ‘Admor’ Regulations?

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gurLet’s begin with a short explanation regarding the meaning of “admor status” at the nation’s international airport.

Background

At Ben-Gurion International Airport, 47 rabbonim enjoy “admor status”, which permits being picked up in a private vehicle from an arriving flight, directly from the plane. The admor does not have to get onto the waiting bus and travel to the entry line with the others. This admor VIP list has been in existence since 2000 and it includes admorim and prominent non-chassidish rabbonim.

The admorim hire the services of the approved Masada Lounge VIP Company that operates in the airport. They are taken from the plane to a VIP lounge where they are inspected by customs, security and registered entering the country. The reverse procedure is true when departing, undergoing security inspection in the VIP lounge and then taken by limo directly to departing flight. Employees of Masada are responsible and certified to act as go-betweens for passengers and customs.

Which Agencies Approved the Admor Status?

The Interior Ministry, Customs Authority, Attorney General, Israel Police, Israel Airport Authority and Ministry of Religious Services were all involved in arranging and approving this special service to accommodate prominent rabbonim.

Who is On the List?

Some of these rabbonim include HaGaon HaRav Aaron Yehuda Leib Shteinman Shlita, the Gerrer Rebbe, Rav Yeshayahu Pinto, Rav Yaakov Effergan, Rav Amnon Yitzchak, as well as the sons of Maran HaGaon HaRav Ovadia Yosef ZT”L.

What Happened to Compel Customs to Make a Change?

It appears that about two weeks ago, Rabbi Yaakov Effergan, known as “The Rentgan” arrived in Ben-Gurion and he was picked up by the VIP service. His gabbai told the agent that the rav only had a carryon bag and there was nothing to declare. The agent then asked the gabbai to give him the bag to permit him having it inspected by customs. It was then that he learned the rav did not wait around, but had already headed home, bypassing the VIP arrival system and leaving before receiving the okay to do so. They phoned the rav and instructed him to return but he would not, explaining he was already ten minutes from his home.

Customs officials probed the incident and decided that Rabbi Effergan travels regularly, at times several times monthly and therefore, he is well acquainted with the procedure for “admorim”.

“If we were dealing with a regular traveler, customs agents would have gone to his home to get him” officials explain in the Maariv report.

As a result of the rabbi’s actions, Customs Authority officials sent a stern letter to Masada Lounge for failing to handle the escort as required. A change in the procedure has already been made and from now on, an admor’s passport will be held by officials until after the customs inspection, thereby preventing the VIP rabbi from leaving prematurely.

Customs officials add they do not suspect the rabbi was avoiding them but nonetheless, they are standing on regulations and are unwilling to permit a reoccurrence of such an incident. Customs officials add they did not phone the rav but someone from the Masada Company. “If customs called the rabbi, believe me he would have turned around and returned as we demanded” the official explains.

Officials responding for Rabbi Effergan call the entire matter “a misunderstanding” which they blame on a new employee. They add that at no time was the rabbi instructed to return for if that were they case, the rabbi’s driver would not have hesitated to comply.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

8 COMMENTS

  1. Rules are rules, when not abided by (new employee, old employee, not understanding, etc.) CHANGES will be put into effect. Let’s not make this into a Anti-Admor issue!

  2. Pretty good lifestyle for people that don’t indulge in materialism that’s pshat in the Mishnah in Avos zuche naaseh milachto al yidei acheirim

  3. #1 it sounds like you imply the admors side to be untrue. Is this something you “know”, you heard imagined or just your own opinion?

    They claim it was a new employee who never asked them to come back. And mind you they did check his luggage and have no indication he behaved against the law, but rather that the law official didn’t use his standard procedure he was supposed to follow.

    It’s easy to blasphemies another yid it and some people get a high from bad mouthing an armor even more. This is not the case here.

  4. Exams and interviews are held for this Admor club every two years on Nittel Nacht. You have to prove that you will travel very regularly, and show auditors statements proving net worth.
    If the Pope visits he will be given a day pass.
    The mafia leaders asked for the same treatment, but were told a mafioso always has ways to circumvent any legalities. Like the exams for the chief rabbi-nut, there are ways around the qualifications, but they are expensive and neither visa, american express or mastercard is accepted.

  5. what bus? There’s no more bus at the new terminal. The plane opens right into the terminal like here the U.S. and you have to walk about a mile to Customs.

  6. Why to rabbis get special treatment?

    Years ago I was in a particularly long immigration/customs line at Baltimore/Washington International Airport. Behind me in line were two members of Congress: Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA), and the late Rep. Hamilton Fish (R-NY). They were traveling on diplomatic passports and could have bypassed the line completely — skipping any and all customs inspections. But they stood their turn in line with the rest of us.