Tumult Erupts After Chabad Boy Puts Tefillin On Woman


chabad tefillinA Chabad emissary placed tefillin on a woman in New York last Friday, apparently mistaking her for a man, Times of Israel reports.

Baci Weiler, a student at the University of Chicago, was stopped near Union Square and asked if she was Jewish.

While she planned to keep walking, her friend yelled out, “Yeah!” Weiler said in a Facebook post Monday.

After offering her friend Alex Stern a free set of Shabbos candles, the Chabad rep asked Weiler if she had put on tefillin that day.

Unbeknownst to the Chabad rep in Union Square, Weiler was not male.

“I was just shocked by the question and answered confusedly,” Weiler told the Times of Israel.

Her friend rushed to take photos of the moment, as the Chabad emissary asked, “Have you heard of the Lubavitcher Rebbe?”

Sharing the experience on Facebook, she said, “Apparently, buzzed hair + baggy t-shirt + haredi lack of any concept of fluidity in gender expression = egalitarianism.”

Rabbi Zvi Drizin, Director of The Intown Chabad in Dallas, TX, wrote the following letter to Baci Weiler in criticism of her actions:

Dear Baci,

Must be a great day for you? You got 66 shares on your recent public Facebook post. A family member sent me the article about it in the Times of Israel telling how you suckered this poor naive Chabad boy into putting Tefillin on with you, a female, against what he believes.

That poor boy who doesn’t have “any concept of fluidity in gender expression” didn’t realize that not only are you really a woman but you had already put on Tefillin that morning.

The idea of gender sensitivity and fluidity seems to be of importance to you, but the concept of being honest in your interactions are not?

Your friends on Facebook (at least 121 of them by last count) seem to love what you did, but what about that boy? What about the fact that this boy was just a nice guy who trying to help out another Jew in his way. Did he deserve the embarrassment of being a public sucker? He is a real person with real feeling living amongst real people.

A good friend of yours recently reminded me of the importance of being sensitive to others who are perhaps not the mainstream… A “Chareidi” man is no less worthy of sensitivity than anyone else in society and our tradition is very clear about what the values of sensitivity are.

Baci, I don’t know the boy’s name, but he deserves an apology. Fast.


P.S. Yes, this is a public letter publicly answering a public Facebook post and a public article.

Baci Weiler has since made the original Facebook post “private” and wrote that “Watching these photos spread, I’ve had time to reflect on their implications.”

She explained that “It was a powerful moment, but also painful and wrong – because it was under false pretenses. Though his mistaken assumptions instigated the encounter, I let it continue without correcting him.”

“Though I didn’t force him to do something wrong, I allowed him to do something he presumably would have been uncomfortable doing given complete knowledge of the situation …Despite our ideological differences, I owed him this basic level of respect as a fellow Jew and as a human. For that I am sorry.”

“… Beyond this, my post was interpreted as personally mocking him, and for that I am also sorry. This was not my intention …”

{CB Frommer-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Matzav: i think you are furthering the injustice of this woman by posting the picture along with this article. Whereas this woman shared this picture and story with 121 friends who will never see or meet anyone who knows this chabad boy, you have shared it with the entire frum world; much more of an offense than the insensitivity displayed by Baci. Please remove this picture ASAP. Thank you!

  2. I agree with commenters #1 and #2. She was noble enough to apologize in a very well-written response acknowledging what she had done was wrong and had the guts to publicly apologize. She is a respectful and polite young woman who should be commended, The shluchim who unknowingly put tefillin on her, were caught off guard and have no doubt learned to be more careful in the future.

  3. I am amazed she had the awareness to apologize! Most non-religious Jews are so into their individual-expression-trumps -everything view they won’t even consider religious Jews’ viewpoints-if only WoW could open their minds to see the religious prespective!!!