Airline stop rabbi for 'suspicious' shofar

By Jonathan Kalmus, September 2, 2010
Airline staff were said to have looked at the shofar in awe

Airline staff were said to have looked at the shofar in awe

An Israeli rabbi narrowly escaped arrest after being stopped by security officers at Munich airport for carrying a shofar.

Airport officials pulled aside Rabbi Mordechai Halperin, who is in his late 50s, and asked him to explain the religious article while arriving on a flight from Tel-Aviv on Monday night. Rabbi Halperin was visiting his daughter Esther Chitrik who lives in Nuremberg and works as an Chabad emissary in the city.

"He was in a bit of a panic," said Gigi Mechlowitz, a fellow Jewish passenger from Manchester, who stopped to help.

“They told him to open his bag and loads of security guards came around. The rabbi asked me how to say shofar in German.”

Mr Mechlowitz said: “Officers escorted the rabbi to a customs area suspicious the ram's horn was a trophy from a protected animal.

“The rabbi told them in English 'sixty years ago you knew exactly what it was and we got liquidated because of religious items'.

“I thought he was going to be arrested,” added Mr Mechlowitz, who defused the situation by suggesting the customs officials Google the item.

After some investigations airport guards returned and asked Rabbi Halperin for one final test to ensure the item was safe - a full blowing of the shofar.

Mr Mecholowitz said: “He didn't just give a quick toot, but a whole tekiah teruah thing. About 20 to 30 people, mainly airport staff and a few passengers, looked up in awe.

“It got a nice round of applause from everybody.”

Last updated: 3:36pm, November 2 2010