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El Al: We Can 'Defuse' Tefillin in Flight

El Al Airlines has raced to take advantage of an incident in which a pair of tefillin frightened a flight crew, who thought they were explosives.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 1/28/2010, 3:04 PM / Last Update: 1/28/2010, 5:06 PM

Israel news photo

The ad agency for Israel's national carrier, El Al Airlines, has raced to take advantage of an incident one week ago in which a Jewish teen was taken off a U.S. domestic flight after he began to don a pair of tefillin, or phylacteries.

"Fly with us!  Our cabin crew will know how to "defuse" them..."  the advertisement for El Al Airlines jocularly proclaims in English, with a full-color photo of the tefillin against a mild blue sky.

The tefillin, a set of small leather boxes that are black in color and contain scrolls of parchment inscribed with Bible verses, worn by Jewish men during weekday morning prayers, apparently ignited suspicions among the cabin crew and passengers on the small domestic U.S. Airways flight that the boy was a would-be suicide bomber.

The plane changed its flight plan and immediately diverted to Philadelphia, where police escorted the 17-year-old  “suspect” off the aircraft, which parked in a remote section of the tarmac at Philadelphia International Airport.

It is not really clear whether the “ad” is, in fact, a legitimate ad; AgencySpy editor Matt Van Hoven writes on the Media Bistro creative website that even he has been unable to track down the whereabouts of the elusive “real” advertising agency for El Al Airlines.

“Though this feels fake, it remains awesome,” Van Hoven comments. “Can someone please tell us the origin of this advertisement... If it's really from El Al, it proves the long-standing belief that the Jewish faith is the source of all things awesome in the world, most notably, humor.”