TSA clears four species for travel

Jewish travelers to be allowed to carry traditional Sukkot plants onto flights

Illustrative: An ultra-Orthodox man examines a citron (etrog) in Jerusalem (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Illustrative: An ultra-Orthodox man examines a citron (etrog) in Jerusalem (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

WASHINGTON — The Transportation Security Administration and the US Customs and Border Protection once again will allow the carrying of the four plants used during Sukkot.

However, travelers may be asked to open containers so that their religious items can be checked for invasive pests, according to the notice posted this week on the Orthodox Union website. Unlike in previous years, there was no similar posting on the TSA website.

The TSA regulates the transportation of plants to keep invasive pests and diseases out of the United States.

The four species permitted in airports, security checkpoints and on airplanes are a palm branches, myrtle twigs, willow twigs and a citron. Willow twigs from Europe are not allowed entry.

“We are gratified by the ongoing sensitivity of these agencies to the religious concerns of our community,” said Rabbi Abba Cohen, Agudath Israel of America’s vice president for federal affairs and its Washington director. “They are taking meaningful and appropriate steps to accommodate our religious needs.”

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