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Heathrow Airport Apologizes to Shliach

London’s Heathrow Airport issued an apology to a Chabad Shliach today, Wednesday, after he was told by an airport employee to remove his shoes inside the airport’s multi-faith prayer room.

From The Algemeiner by Shiryn Ghermezian:

Chabad Rabbi Shmuli Brown landed at Heathrow from New York on Tuesday and went to the airport’s multi-faith prayer room to say morning prayers before catching his connecting flight to Manchester. Brown, who is a rabbi at Liverpool University, told the UK’s Jewish Chronicle that he was stopped by “a person in uniform, though I am not sure from what department,” who entered the prayer room and asked him to take off his shoes, as is the custom in mosques. Rabbi Brown later said on Twitter that the man was a “Muslim worker” at the airport.

“I replied that it was a multi-faith room, but he just told me again to take my shoes off,” Rabbi Brown said. “He gave me an uncomfortable feeling and made me feel very unwelcome, so I left the room.”

After the incident, the Chabad rabbi took to Twitter and asked Heathrow Airport to fire the worker, whom he described as “very unwelcoming.” He also told the Jewish Chronicle he wants Heathrow Airport to “make it very clear that this is a multi-faith room that caters for all religions, and is not just a mosque.”

Heathrow Airport responded on Twitter by saying, “We apologize for this experience and are dealing with this right now.” The airport also asked Rabbi Brown to provide a description of the worker and the time that the incident occurred.

Rabbi Brown contacted Heathrow airport’s Jewish chaplain, Rabbi Hershi Vogel, who told him he was not the first person that this had happened to. The Chabad rabbi said the incident was the first time he tried to use a prayer room inside an airport, and because of what transpired, he will not be doing so again.

He explained, “I am very much into displaying my Jewish pride, so I won’t be going into a small room and cowering in the corner.”

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#1 Comment By Confused On November 12, 2015 @ 5:41 am

What made it mutar to daven in an airport chapel (or a hospital chapel) since the rooms are used by other religions and their items are stored there?

#2 Comment By Milhouse On November 12, 2015 @ 10:05 am

What made it ossur? What do you imagine is stored in the room? And even if your imaginings were correct, why should we care what is stored there? Even if there were a full chamber pot hidden somewhere, if you can’t smell it you can daven there.

#3 Comment By ex-pat On November 12, 2015 @ 10:35 am

That’s why I love Ben Gurion airport. A shul with a sefer Torah, minyanim, Tefillin stand – it’s home. Actually, leaving from there IS leaving home – coming back is a wonderful feeling.

Shmully, I have known you since you were a little boy – are you really surprised? England is Islamafied. Get out while you can.

#4 Comment By Yaakov Krakow On November 12, 2015 @ 3:23 pm

These are my thoughts on the above article . . .

This is a perfect example of “Teyvel ihm ha Sheretz” . . . . dunking in a mikvah while holding a dead lizard or insect . . . “multi-faith” prayer room by definition is going to include religions that, according to Jewish Law, are classified as idol-worship, hence making it at least inappropriate, at worst halachically forbidden, to pray there. Any rabbi should know this and abide by it, even if for no other reason than “moris ayin.” For a Jewish person to choose to pray in such a room (which is wrong to begin with) and then make a public stink when divine providence deals the person a retaliatory blow in the form of disrespect from the guy who told him to take off his shoes . . . is ludicrous. This story is just _wrong_ on so many levels. I pray that G-d should bless all involved with wisdom, even-mindedness, and intellectual honesty so they can snap back into reality on this one. *shake my head*

#5 Comment By Shmuly Brown On November 12, 2015 @ 1:31 pm

Always one to stand up to discrimination and be a public proud Jew.