Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jewish Tefillin and the Bentō Box

Tefillin Barbie

Jewish teen's tefillin sets off bomb scare that diverts US Airways flight from LaGuardia Airport by Rocco Parascandola and Larry Mcshane, Daily News, Originally Thursday, January 21st 2010

Phylacteries, or Tefillin, are Suddenly Big News - Thursday January 21, 2010 Beliefnet

Tefillin Terror! by Yitzchok Adlerstein, Cross-Currents

Tefillin layer's rabbi: Put on phylacteries after landing Ynet Published: 01.22.10

A Flight Is Diverted by a Prayer Seen as Ominous - James Barron January 21, 2010 The New York Times

Jewish Prayers Cause Bomb Scare On Airplane Gothamist

Tefillin - Wikipedia

When I was growing up, I was mortified by my experiences of bringing Japanese food to school for lunch. Back then, sushi was not trendy, and most people would shriek "ewww!" at the sight of all of the unfamiliar things in my bentō box. Granted, some things looked a bit freaky to me, too, having grown up in the US and not exactly being familiar with everything my mother wanted to make sure I had in my very uniquely eclectic diet (an example of a "heavy" (an acquired taste) would be nattō...although I don't think I've ever had to take *that* to school, phew). Times have changed, thank goodness, but maybe not so much for other cultures.

I grew up in NYC where I became familiarized with the different types of Jewish religions and customs that are practiced. Some people are more orthodox than others, just like in other religious groups. The scrolls inside the tefillin contain verses from the Torah, and the teffilin are bound to the body during prayer, because of the literal interpretation of a biblical verse (according to Wikipedia: The source texts for tefillin in the Torah are obscure in literal meaning. For example, the following verse from the Shema states: "And you shall bind them as a sign upon your arm, and they shall be as totafot between your eyes."). It's no different than Catholics believing in the Eucharist and literally consuming the flesh and blood of Christ, or Protestants believing in a physical rapture (being caught up in the sky) in End Times. Surely, there are many more examples like these, and the practice of different religions and interpretations within each are a sign of religious freedom in our shared world. I, for one, hope we'll continue to embrace these unique aspects of people's lives by learning more about them. I understand people can be freaked by things foreign to them, especially in light of security and air travel these days, but ya know, it doesn't hurt to be a little hip.

Related Links:

Tefilah: Prayer - Judaism 101

"What would you like for lunch today, my little cherry blossom?" asked Yoko's mother..." Yoko (Yoko and Friends-School Days) (Hardcover)
~ Rosemary Wells (Author)
› Visit Amazon's Rosemary Wells Page

Tefillin Barbie: Considering gender and ritual garb - January 2008 Jewish Women's Archive