Dec 152010

An Israeli putting on tefillin set off a bomb scare on a New Zealand ferry, the TVNZ website reported.

The captain of the inter-island ferry, who believed the tefillin’s boxes and leather straps resembled a bomb, reported his concerns to police during Sunday’s voyage between Wellington and Picton, New Zealand’s two main islands.

Police detained the Israeli and his three companions for questioning when the ferry docked. Some media in New Zealand even reported a hostage situation aboard the ferry, even though the passenger was cooperative with police.

The captain of the inter-island vessel informed police that a passenger on board had been observed carrying “a suspicious article,” which contained “small boxes with wires attached to them.” Jewish websites described the man as having worn his tefillin (phylacteries) on the morning ferry voyage.

The tefillin wearer was stopped by police at the ferry’s destination after it finished crossing the Cook Strait, and was released without charges. New Zealand race relations commissioner Joris de Bres described the tefillin incident as “an unfortunate overreaction.”

In September a Jewish man narrowly avoided arrest after he was stopped by security officers at Munich Airport while carrying a shofar.

In Jordan, the government doesn’t take any chances: Israelis are not allowed to bring tefillin into the kingdom at all.

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