Transportation Security Administration recognizes Agudath Israel as partner

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Agudath Israel of America was awarded the 2016 Community Partnership Award from a federal security agency.

The Transportation Security Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, presented Agudah with the award on Tuesday during its annual conference. It is the first time that a Jewish group has been recognized by the agency with the partnership award, Agudah said in a statement.

The award presentation referred to Agudah as a “valued liaison” and a “diligent advocate for the Jewish community,” and noted the organization’s “invaluable service and continuing contributions” to TSA, as well as its role in “ensuring that the traveling public is treated in a fair and lawful manner.”

Agudath Israel has advised and educated the agency and its security personnel in areas of Jewish beliefs, practices, holiday observances and ritual items. Areas of cooperation have included efforts to end explicit x-ray imaging of passengers, curb unnecessary or intrusive pat downs, and provide private rooms for searches – as well as the issuing of notices, web postings and field briefings circulated during Jewish holiday travel seasons, for example ensuring that Jewish travelers can carry their four species on a plane before and during the Succot holiday


Most recently, Agudath Israel developed a “Judaism 101” webinar for TSA personnel, in order to familiarize them with the wide scope of Jewish daily and holiday practices and pointing out the kinds of problems that might arise at security checkpoints, airports and other locations. The webinar, which is shown at various intervals over the course of the year, also offers solutions and “best practices” to address those issues.

“The TSA has been both receptive and responsive to the manifold concerns of the Jewish community,” said Rabbi Abba Cohen, Agudath Israel’s Vice President for Federal Affairs and Washington Director, said a statement. “It has truly been a partnership, where both sides work together to find solutions to sometimes complex problems.”

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