January 21, 2010 by USA Post
Tefillin:A Jewish prayer box worn by a teen passenger caused a Thursday morning furor on a flight from LaGuardia Airport, forcing an emergency landing in Philadelphia, authorities said.
The mix-up involved the 17-year-old boy’s tefillin, a black box filled with Biblical verses and tied with leather straps to his head, said Philadelphia police Lt. Frank Vanore.
Fears of a potential terrorist attack led the Louisville, Ky.,-bound flight to instead land at Philadelphia International Airport just before 9 a.m., authorities said.
All 15 passengers and 3 crew members aboard U.S. Airways Express Flight 3709 were safely evacuated after the sudden landing, said airline spokesman Jim Olson.
Although the teen explained the significance of the tefillin to the crew, the pilot opted to land the plane in Philadelphia anyway, Vanore said.
The tefillin-wearing youth was traveling with his sister from New York to Louisville. The boxes – a second one is tied around the arm – are typically worn by men in certain Orthodox Jewish communities.
The flight was met by law enforcement personnel and officials from the Transportation Security Administration.
The teen was interviewed and the plane swept for explosive devices, with nothing found, the TSA said in a statement.
Vanore said the unidentified youth was cooperative with authorities after the plane landed.
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