(JTA) – An Israeli woman mocked a Chabad rabbi at Ben Gurion Airport as he helped another man don tefillin. The woman, whose actions were captured on a cellphone video posted on Facebook, mocked the men, laughing and screeching on Monday morning as they practiced the religious rite. She yelled at them in Hebrew to “move because you are bothering me” and asked rhetorically, “Why are you doing this here? There are people here.” Several people asked her to tone down, but instead she became louder. The video, which has had more than 300,000 views since Monday, May 28, was posted by Gad Kaufman, the businessman who put on the tefillin with the help of the Chabad rabbi manning a booth at the airport. Kaufman, who was leaving Israel for a business trip, wrote a post in Hebrew with the video.
“An amazing incident took place this morning at the airport, when I was politely asked by a Chabad man if I wanted to put on tefillin,” he wrote. “I said yes, and then a woman with a crazy look jumped up and started cursing, harassing and disturbing! It is really shameful that being a Jew in this country means being persecuted by leftist Bohemians. If I were a Muslim or a Christian, would it be more legitimate for her …?”
The woman was identified by the Israel National News website as Pnina Peri, a visiting assistant professor of Israel Studies at the University of Maryland. Peri, who formerly taught at Israel’s Sapir Academic College, is an expert in multicultural theories. Her husband, Yoram Peri, served as president of the New Israel Fund, which supports left-wing causes, from 1999 to 2001 and is the director of Joseph and Alma Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies at the University of Maryland.
Many of the responses to the video criticized the woman for her actions. Several praised the Chabad rabbi, identified by Channel 20, a religious news station, as Rabbi Meir Herzl, the director of the Chabad House in the Jerusalem suburb of Pisgat Zeev, for his restraint in not responding to her.