Video: Father of Tefillin Boy Calev Leibowitz: Son Was Handcuffed, Removed “With a Gun”

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glen-leibowitz[Video links below.] Some additional details about yesterday’s tefillin incident have emerged. According to Glenn Leibowitz, the father of the boy, Calev Leibowitz, “the man with a gun had taken them both off of theplane. They put them in handcuffs and then loaded them into a van. And they then quickly realized it was a horrible overreaction on the part of the stewardess,” said Mr. Leibowitz to WLKY television.

“He did today what he would do every morning. He certainly wasn’t looking for this publicity,” said Rabbi Shmuel Greenberg of Young Israel of White Plains.

“They are religious kids. They say their morning prayers, they use the tefillin, and they traveled before and they put this on and there has never been a problem,” Francis Winchell, Calev’s grandmother, said.

“This was not an act of religious intolerance. This was a legitimate concern,” Rabbi Greenberg added.

Click here for a video report about the incident. Mr. Leibowitz’s comments can be seen at the end.

Click here for another video report, this one containing comments from the boy’s grandmother.

{Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}

36 COMMENTS

  1. To # 1
    You are ridiculous . Many of us who fly often and have to take morning flights ,have always put on talis and tfilin on a plane when we have no choice . It has never been a problem before .

  2. With whatever respest is due the above commenter,”oy gevalt”,I beg to differ:we live,b’chasdei H-Shem, in a country founded on the principle of freedom of religion.What happened yesterday is a travesty.the boy did nothing wrong,and in fact,yesterday .”Tefillin” wasone of the most searched words on the internet.I hope that the boy’s family seeks justice in the courts,and will be compensated for the suffering he endured.

  3. THE STUPID ONE IS ( oygevalt) THE ONE WHO MADE THIS RIDICULOUS COMMENT ABOVE.
    just remain silent when you have nothing intelligent to say.

  4. Oygevalt, you are so generous in your Jewish self-hatred.

    You couldnt use any better adjectives than kindergarten-playgroud “stupid.”
    Stupid for wearing tefillin?
    I think this boy has G-d on his side and you are calling HIM stupid as well.He is courageous to wear his tefillin in public and not ashamed like you are. You may or may not agree with him, but i wouldnt call that stupid.

    Ignorant are the stewardess and pilots who I’m sure in their training and experience should have came across such religious items.

  5. #1: Please don’t judge others. Many Jews daven on planes and don’t get publicity. Would you call them all stupid, even if they did not cause a commotion?
    Mr. Leibowitz, my thoughts are with you. May you have a calm Shabbos and put it behind you. One day your family will laugh at it.
    Who knows? Maybe someone needed to be educated about tefilin that day.

  6. oygevalt that we have people like oygevalt in our own community calling other yidden stupid.
    could have he put his tfillin on at a different time,not on the plane where goyim have no idea what it is,and especially in todays climate,yes.but is he stupid,no!
    there should be a course of religous sensitivity for all airline personel.

  7. #13
    “there should be a course of religous sensitivity for all airline personel”

    There should be a course for religous sensitivity for STUPID PEOPLE like #1 oygevalt!

  8. I can imagine the Chofetz Chaim hunched over his computer and reading comment #1 crying his eyes out… oy gevalt!! oy gevalt!!!

  9. I suppose Oyegevalt deserved to get flamed like he did. Instead of making his point in such an insulting manner, I think it would have been fair to say that its not the best or smartest thing to put on tefillin on an airplane because of the fearful mood in the country regarding terrorism. It’s not too hard to figure out that tefillin are something most non-Jews have never seen and have (or had until now) no concept of such a thing. Therefore, one would put these two facts together and consider that people might be fearful or at least very concerned when they see someone doing something very strange on an airplane.

    I can’t get too exercised about it because of the boy’s age. At 17, I doubt there are too many of us who would figure it out on our own. It was a mistake.

    To the lady who called this a kiddush Hashem: I really can’t say that the passengers are very impressed with Hakodosh Baruch Hu over this and probably not the rest of the world, either. I think most people would be focused on the fact that it ended up being a big annoyance and inconvenience, even if unintended. With flying being so much tircha already, I can’t see the kiddush Hashem here.

  10. No, it was not a mistake for him to put tefilin on during the flight. What it was, was a Mitzvah. And a Kiddush Hashem too, as he did it b’rabim.

  11. People all over America put tefilin on during flighrs 6 days a week. The fact is this dumb flight attendant overreacted in an unusual way. This will not, nor should it, stop us Yidden from putting on Tefilin on our flights.

    Yasher Koach to this bochur for making a Kiddush Hashem.

  12. if you would ask the average orthodox rav he would tell u that it is better to put on teffilin in private than to do it brabim.its absolutely not a kiddush hashem and there is usually no need for it as teffilin is not bound by zman. u can put on teffilin all day until shkia with the same mitzva.i am not blaming the boy chas vesholom cuz hes just a kid but all the commentators who naively think that this was a huge kiddush hashem, im afraid that u r gravely mistaken. Over flaunting of our yidishkeit only makes the goyim hate us more.

  13. To add to what Realist said on the Kiddush Hashem issue: the definition of Kiddush Hashem is not to simply practice Yiddishkeit B’rabim. The essence of Kiddush Hashem is performing acts, of whatever kind, that bring honor, glory and respect for Hashem. If the end result was that many people were annoyed and inconvenienced, it is not a Kiddush Hashem. I assure you, not one person on that flight said: “Wow, those Jews are wonderful with their phylacteries. Their G-d must be terrific!”

    So, I ask those who keep saying it is a Kiddush Hashem, what is your rationale? Did this act end up bringing honor to Hashem or did it simply end up annoying a lot of people who probably can’t figure out why the young man had to don the Tefillin at that particular time. Don’t answer with a slogan or hide behind “any Rav in the world”. There happen to be several well known piskei halacha regarding air travel where gedolei haposkim said it’s better to daven in your seat, including Shemona Esrei if davening in the aisles will annoy other passengers or the crew. So, if annoying people is enough to be matir tefilla miyushav, certainly davening in a way that causes the flight to be diverted and delayed justifies finding a way to avoid the annoyance issue.

    One other thing really bothers me. People have called the stewardess or the crew “stupid” for reacting the way they did. Such a view, itself, shows spectacular ignorance of the world you live in. Jews are a tiny percentage of the planet. Frum Jews are a mere fraction of this tiny percentage. Other than folks who live near major concentrations of Orthodox Jews, the whole world is (or was) ignorant of what tefillin are. One doesn’t have to be stupid to be ignorant of information they have no reason or means to know. I would find your characterization offensive, if it wasn’t itself the product of ignorance , rather than arrogance.

  14. #14: “The boy was mekadesh shem shmayim by publicly putting his tefilin and davening brabim. He should do it many more times!”

    You’re right! In fact, he should stand in the middle of the Belt Parkway and put on tefillin. Or, maybe, he should leap up on the stage at the Opera House, in front of thousands and put on his tefillin! Think about how ‘Brabim’ that would be!! What a groisse Kiddush Hashem!

  15. i read all your posts, and i cant fins the link to the video. i really want to see what you are all talking and arguing about! Can anyone help me?

  16. The greatest and biggest Kiddush Hashem is to spread Hashem’s word amongst Yidden, NOT to look good amongst non-Yidden.

    Therefore, based on that criteria this bachor made a humongeous Kiddush Hashem, as Yidden who otherwise never thought of or wore Tefilin, were suddenly exposed to it with this news, and perhaps gave thought to it.

    Especially hearing that this Jewish hero proudly put his Tefilin on publicly without embarrassment!

  17. Even according to the poskim who say you should daven in your seat, rather than make a minyan in the back, would approve of this heroic bachor who made a Kiddush Hashem by davening in his SEAT proudly wearing his Tefilin (and not being embarrassed of being a JEW, as some commenter’s here are.)

    In any event, here is Hagoan Harav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, shlita’s opinion:

    “I asked Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, shlita, if one should pray with a minyan on an airplane. He said yes, adding that he does it “all the time.” While strictly speaking it might be permitted to pray at your seat, Rabbi Scheinberg prefers that one pray with a minyan, but quietly in a way that doesn’t disturb others.”

  18. Shmuel is impervious to logic.

    In 29, he thinks lots of non-frum Yidden will be impressed by the wearing of Tefillin when it ended up causing such a tumult that could have been avoided. Why is so hard for people to understand that practicing Yiddishkeit on someone else’s cheshbon is not tzidkus? Non frum Yidden are just about as likely (if not more so) as non-Jews to think this was just the act of some fanatic who didn’t give any thought to the effect it might have under the current circumstances. IT’S NOT A KIDDUSH HASHEM!!!`

    He even quotes a Psak by Rav Scheinberg, Shlita that contradicts his view: “in a way that doesn’t disturb others”. Get it? If it disturbs others it is not correct and, Rav Scheinberg is not opining that it is a Kiddush Hashem either way.

    Let me add one last point. The young man is probably a good person and it is admirable that he was diligent about making sure to put on tefillin. But it was a mistake (an innocent one at that) just the same.

  19. “Skeptic” I’m afraid it is you who is impervious to logic. Many commenter’s above have explained the many reasons why this Tzadik who put Tefilin on during the flight made a Kiddush Hashem.

    This Tzadik did not practice Yiddishkeit on anyone elses cheshbon. The fact thats some silly flight attendant had the plane diverted is of no one else’s blame. This foolish fight attendant could just have well been afraid maybe the bochur was hiding a bomb under his Yarmulka and diverted the plane for that reason. In neither case would it be the Yid’s fault. And in neither case (Tefilin or Yarmulka) would it be any reason for any Yid in the future to change his Yarmulka or Tefilin wearing practices on an airplane.

    The fact that you don’t like that, neither reduces the Kiddush Hashem this Tzadik performed nor will it stop other heilige Yidden from putting Tefilin on during their flights.

  20. My reading of HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, shlita’s shita is that he clearly allows (indeed “prefers”) that we daven on a plane. In fact he even encourages that we daven with a minyan rather than without a minyan on a plane!! So clearly I would say he holds that we should wear tefilin.

    It is obvious he holds that davening with a minyan (and tefilin) on a plane doesn’t in itself by definition disturb others, as he is encouraging us to do so!!

  21. Wow! A whole thread and not one person can actually provide a coherent argument showing that I’m wrong.

    We’ve got Dave S. who couldn’t reason his way out of a paper bag, completely ignoring the perfectly logical rationale I offered. No, Dave, it is not an argument to say “its a Kiddush Hashem because its a Kiddush Hashem”. Nor is the ad absurdum comparison to a Yarmulka worth the time it took to type. There is obviously a huge difference between a Yarmulka, familiar to most people and hardly an object likely to contain an explosive device and tefillin, which are (were) uniquely foreign and strange to the gentile world and, being boxes, certainly have the capacity to contain dangerous substances. Remember that tefillin have been used for smuggling in the past. This is not an argument for tefillin being banned. Just an argument why someone would think they might be dangerous, whereas, no would think a Yarmulka is.

    Rebbe: Let’s reason together: Rabbi Scheinberg is quoted as having said: “While strictly speaking it might be permitted to pray at your seat, Rabbi Scheinberg prefers that one pray with a minyan, but quietly in a way that doesn’t disturb others.”

    If Rabbi S. Shlita, qualified his recommendation to say “in a way that doesn’t disturb others” would you not think he would consider davening in a way that causes the plane to be diverted and grounded is a way that disturbs others and should be avoided?

    In addition, there are many who hold a more stringent view. The following are taken from a discussion on another site on this subject:

    “Rabbi Shmuel Halevi Wosner: When the “fasten seatbelts” sign is lit, one should sit down. One should refrain from davening in large groups; it is preferable to daven in small groups in the seating area. The same is true for Shemoneh Esrei. If there is a possibility of standing beside one’s seat, not in the aisles, then that is preferable. If this is not possible Shemoneh Esrei can be recited while seated.

    Rabbi Ovadia Yosef davens individually on a plane and not together with a group so as not to disturb others and for fear of robbing another person’s sleep.

    Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach: One should say Shemoneh Esrei on a plane while seated and not while standing in the aisles, where he will disturb others. Rav Shlomo Zalman was not supportive of conducting minyanim during a flight because it disturbs the rest of the passengers.

    Rabbi Moshe Feinstein: It is preferable to sit while davening on a flight …A person daveining on his own during a flight, even if he can stand if there is a chance that this will bother others, it is preferable to sit.

    Rav Breuer advised daveining in your seat to avoid annoying others and blocking the aisles.

    Above Paraphrased”

  22. Skeptic, issulting everyone who disagrees with you (and as we see above that is a lot of people) and making argumentum ad hominem’s does your case no justice.

  23. Rebbe: Let’s reason together: Rabbi Scheinberg is quoted as having said: “While strictly speaking it might be permitted to pray at your seat, Rabbi Scheinberg prefers that one pray with a minyan, but quietly in a way that doesn’t disturb others.”

    If Rabbi S. Shlita, qualified his recommendation to say “in a way that doesn’t disturb others” would you not think he would consider davening in a way that causes the plane to be diverted and grounded is a way that disturbs others and should be avoided?

    Skeptic: The fact that HaRav Scheinberg shlita said “in a way that doesn’t disturb others” obviously means he holds that it can be done in a way that doesn’t disturb others. You are advancing the argument that it cannot be done altogether (tefilin) and thus you are at odds with HaRav Scheinberg shlita.

    In addition, there are many who hold a more stringent view. The following are taken from a discussion on another site on this subject:

    Even if that is the case, I and anyone else, has the right — nay, obligation — of following our Posek even if our Posek is stringent in this regard (davening and wearing tefilin on a flight.)

    “Rabbi Shmuel Halevi Wosner: When the “fasten seatbelts” sign is lit, one should sit down. One should refrain from davening in large groups; it is preferable to daven in small groups in the seating area. The same is true for Shemoneh Esrei. If there is a possibility of standing beside one’s seat, not in the aisles, then that is preferable. If this is not possible Shemoneh Esrei can be recited while seated.

    So Rav Shmuel Halevi Wosner shlita too holds that it is preferable to daven with a (small) minyan on the plane. And to preferably stand for Shemone Esre and undoubtedly wear tefilin.

    Skeptic, the bottom line is that it is a fact that wearing tefilin on a flight does not cause a flight to be diverted. This is an extremely unusual circumstance. Jews across the country wear tefilin every day, 6 days a week, on airplanes without a hitch. The fact that this happened in a one in 50,000 circumstance is absolutely positively no reason for Jews across America to stop wearing tefilin on airplanes or in airports.

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