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(RNS) The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will allow religiously observant Jews to transport ritual objects related to the holiday of Sukkot in airports and through security checkpoints in the U.S.
The move comes at the request of the New York-based Orthodox Union (OU), which over the years has heard complaints from Jews whose lulavs (palm fronds) and etrogs (a fruit) have been damaged or confiscated in airports.
The objects are vital to the seven-day Sukkot holiday, which begins Friday at sundown. During Sukkot, Jews utilize four species of plants as part of their daily prayer service, as stipulated in the book of Leviticus. The holiday recalls the biblical Israelites’ 40 years of wandering in the desert.
According to the OU, the TSA instated a special travel period that will end around October 13.
“TSA works closely with members of the Jewish faith to ensure our security workforce is familiar with the religious holiday Sukkot, and is familiar with the prayer items that passengers may be traveling with,”
said Kimberly Walton, a counselor for the Transportation Security Administration, in a statement distributed by the OU.
Nathan Diament, public policy director of the Orthodox Union, commended the TSA for their efforts to ensure that Jews don’t have difficulties traveling over the holiday in a heightened security environment.
By Michele Chabin
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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