Israeli tourists were refused entry at the border with Jordan yesterday, after Jordanian officials found tefillin in their bags. The religious items are used during Jewish prayers.
According to the Times of Israel, forty Israeli insurance agents on their way to Jordan for a two week holiday were stopped at the border with Jordan near the southern Israeli city of Eilat. Following the discovery of tefillin boxes in the luggage of seven of the Israeli travellers, the Jordanians said that they could not be taken across the border due to security procedures in place to keep tourists safe within the Kingdom.
“As soon as they checked the bags they started to take the tefillin out and immediately asked for our passports,” one of the Israeli travellers told Channel 12. “They took us to a room where they explained to us that religious symbols were not allowed; they said it was ‘for our security,’ even though we told them that tefillin is donned indoors, it’s not like we were walking around in public wearing religious symbols.”
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The travellers were apparently kept at the border for an hour and a half. “We got no answers, so we returned to Israel.”
The Jordanian authorities ask observant Israeli Jews not to wear religious symbols in public. Israelis have been stopped from entering Jordan and taking such items across the border before, they confirmed.
“The Jordanian authorities state that for security reasons they ask religious Israelis not to display religious symbols: tallit, kippah, etc.,” says the Foreign Ministry website. “It has often happened that items such as tallit and tefillin were not allowed in at the border crossing, and the traveller was asked to return to Israel or deposit his religious belongings at the border crossing, until the end of his visit to Jordan.”