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Muslims mistake airport synagogue for mosque, Jewish shawls for prayer mats

Turkish tourists immediately apologize after kneeling for prayer on tallitot in shul at Ben Gurion Airport

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Muslim tourists at prayer in a synagogue at Ben Gurion Airport (NRG screenshot)
Muslim tourists at prayer in a synagogue at Ben Gurion Airport (NRG screenshot)

Jewish worshipers at one of Ben Gurion Airport’s two synagogues were dumbfounded recently to find a group of Turkish tourists on the floor in the room, using Jewish prayer shawls as rugs for Muslim prayer.

The Jewish worshipers had asked for directions to the synagogue from an Israeli at the airport. The unidentified man told the NRG website on Tuesday: “After a few moments, they [the Jewish would-be worshipers] came back to me and asked me if I’d directed them to a synagogue or a mosque.”

“I was shocked and went back there with them and I found a group of Arabs praying in the place, using tallitot (the plural of tallit, the Hebrew word for a prayer shawl) as prayer rugs.”

The man said that as soon as the Muslims realized this was not a mosque and that the shawls were of religious importance in Judaism, “they immediately apologized, folded the shawls and explained that they’d just looked for a place to pray.”

While the airport said it was “learning what happened,” a source close to the airports authority told the website that “although the stomach churns, it was an innocent mistake.”

The airport synagogues are generally kept open, the source said.

The airport does not provide separate prayer facilities for religions other than Judaism.

המתפללים נדהמו: מוסלמים התפללו על "שטיח" מטלית. הסיפור מאחורי הסרטון שזעזע את הגולשיםhttp://bit.ly/2eMLcAK

Posted by Nrg360 on Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Meanwhile, an amateur video of a Muslim woman praying in a Sukkah somewhere near the Dead Sea is doing the rounds on Facebook.

It is a Jewish tradition to host friends and associates in the temporary structure during Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), to recall the booths erected in the desert by the Children of Israel during the biblical Exodus from Egypt.

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