Bnei Brak man arrested for torching tefillin

Police arrest man Bnei Brak resident who publicized footage of himself burning his tefillin in protest of 'religious coercion'.

Haim Lev ,


A Bnei Brak man was arrested recently and questioned by police after he filmed himself destroying tefillin (phylacteries) and broadcast the recording over social media networks in protest of what he called “religious coercion” in Israel.

The suspect, a 21-year-old resident of the predominantly haredi city of Bnei Brak in central Israel, was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family, but recently turned his back on religious observance.

On Friday, the suspect burned his tefillin (phylacteries) set, calling it an act of protest against “religious coercion in Israel”.

“The rabbis are using religious symbols and objects to force religion on people in Israel,” he said while recording himself destroying the tefillin.

After the video went viral on Facebook, Israeli police opened an investigation into the video.

Within a matter of hours, authorities located the man, brought him into a police station for questioning, and then released him.

“A video circulating on social media networks was brought to the police department’s attention when it was found that the video included footage of the desecration of religious items,” a police spokesperson said.

“Israel Police quickly investigated the incident… and managed to identify and locate the suspect, a 21-year-old Bnei Brak man, within the same day [the video was uploaded], and bring him in for questioning.”

“We are very concerned by the violation of religious values and tradition, and will not allow the desecration of any religious tradition.”

Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, a member of the right-wing Otzma Yehudit party who has represented nationalist activists in the past, praised the police for their investigation of the incident.

“Already on Friday I appealed to the Attorney General to have the man who burned the tefillin arrested, and I’m glad the police detained him. But that’s not sufficient – he should be arrested and held in custody until the end of his trial. He should be treated exactly like [right-wing] ‘hilltop youth [settlers] who burned copies of the Koran.”