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London - Rabbi Demands Apology After Being Asked To Remove Shoes In Airport Multi-Faith Prayer Room

Published on: November 11, 2015 01:50 PM
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Rabbi Shmuli Brown (R)Rabbi Shmuli Brown (R)

London - A Liverpool Universities Chabad Rabbi is demanding an apology after he was told to remove his shoes upon entering a multi-faith prayer room at Heathrow Airport in London.

THEJC.com (http://bit.ly/1kN8ZTD) reports that Rabbi Shmuli Brown said he sought out the airport’s multi-faith prayer facility to say his morning prayers while waiting for his connecting flight to Manchester when he was accosted by a “uniformed” person who demanded that he remove his shoes, a practice typically followed when entering a mosque.

Brown said he questioned the authoritative figure—-reminding him of the “multi-faith” nature of the facility, but was again told to remove his shoes.

“He gave me an uncomfortable feeling and made me feel very unwelcome, so I left the room,” Brown said.

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Brown said he reported the incident to Heathrow’s Jewish chaplain, Rabbi Hershi Vogel, who told him this wasn’t the first time such an incident had occurred.

In demanding an apology, Brown said, “I want Heathrow to issue a public statement and make it very clear that this is a multi-faith room that caters for all religions, and is not just a mosque.”


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1

 Nov 11, 2015 at 02:30 PM Maven Says:

What is it with Chabad where ever they are they must show that they are not like a typical Golus Yid?

And lets not forget that if not for Lubavitch the concept the idea of Misnachlim wouldn't probably exist.Supporting and fighting with Arabs day in and day out.Living in the most dangerous territory on planet earth.

Chabad does so much good and its too bad they like to show "im not a Golus Yid"

2

 Nov 11, 2015 at 02:49 PM Anonymous Says:

At their Ohel these rabbis also remove their shoes

3

 Nov 11, 2015 at 02:53 PM yosher Says:

...but they do take off their shoes at "his" Ohel; guess a preferred different faith from ours.

4

 Nov 11, 2015 at 03:03 PM Lawrence M. Reisman Says:

I'm sure that if and when Rabbi Brown visits the Lubavitcher Rebbe's kever, he would remove his shoes, and expect others to do the same.

5

 Nov 11, 2015 at 03:04 PM judith Says:

Reply to #1  
Maven Says:

What is it with Chabad where ever they are they must show that they are not like a typical Golus Yid?

And lets not forget that if not for Lubavitch the concept the idea of Misnachlim wouldn't probably exist.Supporting and fighting with Arabs day in and day out.Living in the most dangerous territory on planet earth.

Chabad does so much good and its too bad they like to show "im not a Golus Yid"

The Brits aren't happy with the new Eurabia , either.

6

 Nov 11, 2015 at 03:19 PM ConcernedMember Says:

Reply to #1  
Maven Says:

What is it with Chabad where ever they are they must show that they are not like a typical Golus Yid?

And lets not forget that if not for Lubavitch the concept the idea of Misnachlim wouldn't probably exist.Supporting and fighting with Arabs day in and day out.Living in the most dangerous territory on planet earth.

Chabad does so much good and its too bad they like to show "im not a Golus Yid"

Since you're so familiar with how to be a good "Golus Yid" why don't you take it upon yourself to stop criticizing others (which is pretty much all you do on VIN) and not be so outwardly showy about how better you are than the rest of us? I don't think a good well behaved "Golus Yid" would be so bold and critical and draw such attention to himself.

7

 Nov 11, 2015 at 03:29 PM Curiosity Says:

Reply to #1  
Maven Says:

What is it with Chabad where ever they are they must show that they are not like a typical Golus Yid?

And lets not forget that if not for Lubavitch the concept the idea of Misnachlim wouldn't probably exist.Supporting and fighting with Arabs day in and day out.Living in the most dangerous territory on planet earth.

Chabad does so much good and its too bad they like to show "im not a Golus Yid"

Quit being ridiculous. If the story was that everybody entering the room was told they have to wear a kipa, you would be up in arms, so don't be a hypocrite.

8

 Nov 11, 2015 at 03:20 PM Tziony Says:

Reply to #1  
Maven Says:

What is it with Chabad where ever they are they must show that they are not like a typical Golus Yid?

And lets not forget that if not for Lubavitch the concept the idea of Misnachlim wouldn't probably exist.Supporting and fighting with Arabs day in and day out.Living in the most dangerous territory on planet earth.

Chabad does so much good and its too bad they like to show "im not a Golus Yid"

Forget about being judgemental and having an obvious agenda. What would you have done? Would you have taken off your shoes to daven? If they asked you to bow down to to the ground like a moslem does would you have done that as well?

9

 Nov 11, 2015 at 03:36 PM charlesk Says:

Reply to #3  
yosher Says:

...but they do take off their shoes at "his" Ohel; guess a preferred different faith from ours.

Huh?

What's the connection?

10

 Nov 11, 2015 at 03:38 PM c Says:

Take off your shoes. What's the big deal. And yea it's a multi faith room, so have some respect for the other faiths that use it and take off your shoes.

11

 Nov 11, 2015 at 03:38 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

At their Ohel these rabbis also remove their shoes

they do not remove "shoes"
they remove "leather" shoes.
If they are wearing non leather then that is fine.
it's not the shoe it's the leather.
Besides how do you know they remove their shoes at the Ohel....
I guess you were there. This is meant for #3 also. :-)

12

 Nov 11, 2015 at 03:36 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Maven Says:

What is it with Chabad where ever they are they must show that they are not like a typical Golus Yid?

And lets not forget that if not for Lubavitch the concept the idea of Misnachlim wouldn't probably exist.Supporting and fighting with Arabs day in and day out.Living in the most dangerous territory on planet earth.

Chabad does so much good and its too bad they like to show "im not a Golus Yid"

I am not defending or criticizing this particular incident.....
but the exact attitude that you are complaining about is what makes Chabad what it is..... living like a golus Yid is a depressing way to live.......
Simcha, even in times of hardship, is certainly preferable and I truly believe this is what attracts rather than detracts the Yidden who did not have the privilege of being exposed to authentic Yiddishkeit. You mention that Chabad does much good - this approach is one of the ways they are accomplishing that.
I probably would not have bothered with the guard and his harassment but I was not there and therefore I cannot really comment.

13

 Nov 11, 2015 at 03:53 PM Maven Says:

If this has been a Shull i would Daven as it suppose to be in a Shull.
This is not a Shull. Its a place where everyone can pray. If i dont like what somebody tells me how to pray in a "multi-faith prayer facility" I would of gone in a corner somewhere and Daven.
A proud Jew doesn't mean to make noise wherever you go. A proud Jew needs to be modest and not to make noise.

14

 Nov 11, 2015 at 03:54 PM Mendel Says:

Reply to #4  
Lawrence M. Reisman Says:

I'm sure that if and when Rabbi Brown visits the Lubavitcher Rebbe's kever, he would remove his shoes, and expect others to do the same.

What's your point? By the grave site of tzaddikim it is a Jewish custom to remove ones shoes, not at a synagogue.

15

 Nov 11, 2015 at 03:58 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Maven Says:

What is it with Chabad where ever they are they must show that they are not like a typical Golus Yid?

And lets not forget that if not for Lubavitch the concept the idea of Misnachlim wouldn't probably exist.Supporting and fighting with Arabs day in and day out.Living in the most dangerous territory on planet earth.

Chabad does so much good and its too bad they like to show "im not a Golus Yid"

Self-hating Jew! Your comments are shameful.

If not for Lubavitch, there would be hundreds of places that would never see a minyan, mikva, kashrus, etc. Let alone the kiruv they do, with mesiras nefesh. A Yid should wear his Yiddishkeit with pride and honor, not disguise and hiding. If you prefer to remove your shoes before you daven, I suppose that is your privilege. But to be pressured to do so out of a preference to another religion that is not even in charge of the location, there is another agenda. And a Yid needs to proudly display refusal to bow to that.

Your delusion about misnachalim was actually quite entertaining, though it is classified under fiction. You either need to go back to your medication, or perhaps be evaluated and prescribed something ASAP.

16

 Nov 11, 2015 at 04:01 PM Mendel Says:

Reply to #1  
Maven Says:

What is it with Chabad where ever they are they must show that they are not like a typical Golus Yid?

And lets not forget that if not for Lubavitch the concept the idea of Misnachlim wouldn't probably exist.Supporting and fighting with Arabs day in and day out.Living in the most dangerous territory on planet earth.

Chabad does so much good and its too bad they like to show "im not a Golus Yid"

The reason we are not acting like a good "Golus Yid" is because we are NOT Golus Yidden. Only the body of a Yid went into galus, not the neshama. And even the body is living in a time that is called the "heel of galus" - the end of galus.
If you live a spiritual life then you are truely not a Golus yid.
Mr. Maven - go get a life!

17

 Nov 11, 2015 at 04:06 PM 54321 Says:

Idiots missed the point of this article, the multi-faith room is being high jacked and taken over by Muslims as is the whole world including the whitehouse.

18

 Nov 11, 2015 at 04:26 PM Just saying Says:

A frum yid shouldn't be danvening in such a place, it's like davening in a church, challiah

19

 Nov 11, 2015 at 04:56 PM British Jew Says:

I can imagine that any self respecting Christian would have made the same complaint that since this is an interfaith place of worship it does not allow for pubic accommodation to any particular faith, whether a cross, a Aron Hakodesh or the practice of removing shoes. Has got nothing to do with Lubavitch, except they are
never shy of speaking up.

20

 Nov 11, 2015 at 04:58 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

At their Ohel these rabbis also remove their shoes

And you're comparing the Ohel to an airport? Very intelligent,,,,

21

 Nov 11, 2015 at 05:05 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #10  
c Says:

Take off your shoes. What's the big deal. And yea it's a multi faith room, so have some respect for the other faiths that use it and take off your shoes.

Stop being stupid. The only 'faith' that removes their shoes for prayer is islam,,,,Jews should not do so in an airport public prayer site used by all faiths.....unless you wouldn't have a problem asking every person who enters to put on yarmulke, tefillin, etc,

22

 Nov 11, 2015 at 05:14 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #16  
Mendel Says:

The reason we are not acting like a good "Golus Yid" is because we are NOT Golus Yidden. Only the body of a Yid went into galus, not the neshama. And even the body is living in a time that is called the "heel of galus" - the end of galus.
If you live a spiritual life then you are truely not a Golus yid.
Mr. Maven - go get a life!

Huh??? call it hwat you want till moshaich comes we have a shvua to abide by

shlo isgar beumus.

23

 Nov 11, 2015 at 05:28 PM Anonymous Says:

I agree with #18. The Lubavitch individual should not be davening in a place, where other faiths are praying, as it is tantamount to praying in a church.

24

 Nov 11, 2015 at 06:31 PM HankM Says:

Is it allowed to pray in such a room? Avdei avodah zarah use that same room to worship their gods, I think that pasuls the room as much as a church

25

 Nov 11, 2015 at 06:34 PM curious Says:

Reply to #10  
c Says:

Take off your shoes. What's the big deal. And yea it's a multi faith room, so have some respect for the other faiths that use it and take off your shoes.

That is just assanine! Why shouldn't others be expected to wear phylacteries?
The Jewish custom today is to pray with shoes. Normative halacha forbids praying without shoes.

26

 Nov 11, 2015 at 06:48 PM Lawrence M. Reisman Says:

Reply to #14  
Mendel Says:

What's your point? By the grave site of tzaddikim it is a Jewish custom to remove ones shoes, not at a synagogue.

Do Jews remove their shoes at Machpela? At Kever Dovid HaMelech on Har Tzion? At the graves of Bar Yochai or the Rambam? At the grave of the Maharal of Prague? I could go on, but most people would get the point. For 43 years and some, no one took off shoes at the grave of the Rayyatz, either.

27

 Nov 11, 2015 at 06:43 PM Mendel Says:

Reply to #22  
Anonymous Says:

Huh??? call it hwat you want till moshaich comes we have a shvua to abide by

shlo isgar beumus.

That's not a shavua. That's your attitude!

28

 Nov 11, 2015 at 07:55 PM mnmnmn Says:

I remember learning as a young child just the opposite. U are not allowed to daven shmoina esrei without shoes on.

29

 Nov 11, 2015 at 07:55 PM Normal Says:

You are getting confused. It is an empty room where people can pray so you don't have the situation of people doing "strange" things all over the airport. Would you doven there if there was a big cross on the front wall? Would you demand others to wear a yarmulke? No religion should be enforcing a custom on others. If not acceptable then go and make your own room to pray in. Taking shoes off at the Rebbe's grave is totally irrelevant. L'havdil I take off my shoes to have a shower, what does that prove?

30

 Nov 11, 2015 at 08:05 PM Esther Says:

Reply to #13  
Maven Says:

If this has been a Shull i would Daven as it suppose to be in a Shull.
This is not a Shull. Its a place where everyone can pray. If i dont like what somebody tells me how to pray in a "multi-faith prayer facility" I would of gone in a corner somewhere and Daven.
A proud Jew doesn't mean to make noise wherever you go. A proud Jew needs to be modest and not to make noise.

Except when he's demanding his share of welfare,section 8,food stamps etc or attending a public anti- Israel rally.

31

 Nov 11, 2015 at 08:08 PM lakewooder Says:

There is no minhag to remove shoes at a kever. This is a pagan custom that is not known amongst Jews. Nobody removes their shoes in Meron, Lizhensk, Tzefas, Vilednik, Kever Rochel or any other of the kevorim revered by Jews. They never have. I don't believe that Chabad people do it at any other kever other than their leader.
And the existence of Chabad houses or Chabad kiruv does not make their customs any better. It is not all or nothing.

32

 Nov 11, 2015 at 08:33 PM Anonymous Says:

Does anyone remember several years ago when the old Pope was visiting EY and planned to got to the kosel and some lunatic Rav in charge of the Kosel area initially requested that the "groise galach not show up wearing a tzelem" o ut of respect for the kadushah of the plaza in front of the Kosel? Well, the kosel area is also important to the Muslims and Christians. Just take your shoes off and shut up....

33

 Nov 11, 2015 at 07:38 PM Anonymous Says:

I happened to daven in this room at Heathrow a couple of years ago waiting for an early morning flight. There was an ante room there with what looked like a very low shower (to wash feet?) and a shelf with a number of mats rolled up.
Inside was a larger room with benches around the walls but no decorations or symbols. Nobody entered while I was there, but I did not feel comfortable.
Coming back home I asked a shailah if I should have davened there. I was told that it was OK according to halachah, but according to kabbalah it would be better not to daven there.

34

 Nov 11, 2015 at 10:07 PM Aview Says:

Reply to #33  
Anonymous Says:

I happened to daven in this room at Heathrow a couple of years ago waiting for an early morning flight. There was an ante room there with what looked like a very low shower (to wash feet?) and a shelf with a number of mats rolled up.
Inside was a larger room with benches around the walls but no decorations or symbols. Nobody entered while I was there, but I did not feel comfortable.
Coming back home I asked a shailah if I should have davened there. I was told that it was OK according to halachah, but according to kabbalah it would be better not to daven there.

i once wanted to daven in an interfaith prayer room many years ago i believe it was either in the Dallas airport or Atlanta i noticed a Bible with a cross on the cover my first instinct was to turn it over face down then i thought if a Christian came in and saw what i did he might become insulted or even violent. so i went out side put on talis and tefilin and davend as best i could but it was not with much kavune as the announcements and people staring disturbed me a lot.

when i came home i asked my dayan a shila what to do in a situation like that he forwarded it to one of the biggest poskim (don't remember who) the pasak was that the rumbam paskens if one is traveling and the time of davining has arrived and the only place he can find that he can daven bcavune is outside a beis avode zura he should close his eys and daven there rather than daven without kavene

35

 Nov 11, 2015 at 11:15 PM Liepa Says:

I was at LHR (Heathrow) a couple of years ago catching an early flight and also walked into this multi-faith prayer room to daven. At first it was empty but then some muslims streamed in whilst I was wearing my taalis and tefillin, I'm not sure whether they identified me as a Jew or not but I felt extremely uncomfortable by their occasional stares.

On another note, I was once on a stopover in Frankfurt, Germany and there wasn't a multi-faith prayer room, so during the waiting period for my connecting flight to (Lezansk) Poland, in the terminal, I'm standing there in my taalis and tefillin with gazillions of people streaming by, imagine, if you will, a yid clad in taalis and tefillin in the heart of a busy German airport. REVENGE IS SWEET!

36

 Nov 11, 2015 at 11:20 PM lazerx Says:

Reply to #1  
Maven Says:

What is it with Chabad where ever they are they must show that they are not like a typical Golus Yid?

And lets not forget that if not for Lubavitch the concept the idea of Misnachlim wouldn't probably exist.Supporting and fighting with Arabs day in and day out.Living in the most dangerous territory on planet earth.

Chabad does so much good and its too bad they like to show "im not a Golus Yid"

Don't be stupid! These rooms are for all faiths, not that one faith 'lords' over the others.

Any and every Jew should protest some one requiring us to take off our shoes or make a cross or bow down to an idol in order to use the room.

As for Chabad, no one does what they do, and before there was Chabad, there were mitnagdim.

37

 Nov 12, 2015 at 12:46 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #36  
lazerx Says:

Don't be stupid! These rooms are for all faiths, not that one faith 'lords' over the others.

Any and every Jew should protest some one requiring us to take off our shoes or make a cross or bow down to an idol in order to use the room.

As for Chabad, no one does what they do, and before there was Chabad, there were mitnagdim.

Don't perpetuate the lie that prior to chabad there were no chassidus....the facts are that there were many rebbes with real chassidim by any accepted standards well before there was something called Lubavitch....

38

 Nov 12, 2015 at 12:52 AM Greener Says:

This Brown guy is just looking for attention; he should be ignored.

39

 Nov 12, 2015 at 01:53 AM The Facts Says:

Reply to #26  
Lawrence M. Reisman Says:

Do Jews remove their shoes at Machpela? At Kever Dovid HaMelech on Har Tzion? At the graves of Bar Yochai or the Rambam? At the grave of the Maharal of Prague? I could go on, but most people would get the point. For 43 years and some, no one took off shoes at the grave of the Rayyatz, either.

While it may not be customary to remove shoes in the places that you mentioned, the custom to remove shoes at the Oholim of the Rebbes of Chabad has been that way for generations. What you said is not correct. It in fact was always the minhog to remove shoes as the Ohel of the Raya'tz. I remember that from nearly 50 years of visiting there.

While I can only assume the same was done regarding earlier generations, it is a logical assumption. How would that have suddenly become the practice only starting with the Raya'tz?

What I can also say definitively, having visited the Ohel of the Baal HaTanya, is that it is certainly done there now.

In any case, all of this is irrelevant to the story being discussed here. It was only thrown into the mix by some k'vetchers.

40

 Nov 12, 2015 at 03:42 AM BarryLS1 Says:

Reply to #1  
Maven Says:

What is it with Chabad where ever they are they must show that they are not like a typical Golus Yid?

And lets not forget that if not for Lubavitch the concept the idea of Misnachlim wouldn't probably exist.Supporting and fighting with Arabs day in and day out.Living in the most dangerous territory on planet earth.

Chabad does so much good and its too bad they like to show "im not a Golus Yid"

You are the prototypical "Golus Yid." Not only do you have no self respect, you stand up WITH our enemies against us. Shame on you!

41

 Nov 12, 2015 at 10:05 AM Mayer Says:

This has nothing to do with Chabad in general, still less the burial site of the last Lubavitcher Rebbe z"l.

The question here is really very simple. The nine multi-faith prayer rooms at Heathrow Airport [for locations see: http://www.heathrow.com/airport-guide/terminal-facilities-and-services/prayer-rooms-and-chapel#] - are under the jurisdiction of the airport owner and operator Heathrow Airport Holdings Limited. If that company requires visitors to the rooms - where I have been many times and never seen any notices with any such requirement - then visitors have to take their shoes off or not use the room. If there is no such rule made by the only authority who can make it, you can keep your shoes on. Hopefully the official Heathrow Chaplain, Rabbi Hershi Vogel, can ensure there is a prominent notice on Heathrow Airport Holdings Limited letter head paper put up saying either "Please remove your shoes when entering this room " or "There is no requirement to remove your shoes when entering this room ". If you are not required to remove your shoes and anyone asks you to do so, just politely decline.

42

 Nov 12, 2015 at 10:56 AM Chabad Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

At their Ohel these rabbis also remove their shoes

Idiot. We put on NON-LEATHER FOOTWEAR. As you probably know but decided to "forget" that little tidbit of information.

43

 Nov 12, 2015 at 10:59 AM Chabad Says:

Reply to #39  
The Facts Says:

While it may not be customary to remove shoes in the places that you mentioned, the custom to remove shoes at the Oholim of the Rebbes of Chabad has been that way for generations. What you said is not correct. It in fact was always the minhog to remove shoes as the Ohel of the Raya'tz. I remember that from nearly 50 years of visiting there.

While I can only assume the same was done regarding earlier generations, it is a logical assumption. How would that have suddenly become the practice only starting with the Raya'tz?

What I can also say definitively, having visited the Ohel of the Baal HaTanya, is that it is certainly done there now.

In any case, all of this is irrelevant to the story being discussed here. It was only thrown into the mix by some k'vetchers.

WE WEAR NON-LEATHER FOOTWEAR AT THE OHEL. If you don't have your own, you can wear any one of the pairs of crocs available for visitors in different sizes, even colors.

44

 Nov 12, 2015 at 11:05 AM Chabad Says:

Reply to #39  
The Facts Says:

While it may not be customary to remove shoes in the places that you mentioned, the custom to remove shoes at the Oholim of the Rebbes of Chabad has been that way for generations. What you said is not correct. It in fact was always the minhog to remove shoes as the Ohel of the Raya'tz. I remember that from nearly 50 years of visiting there.

While I can only assume the same was done regarding earlier generations, it is a logical assumption. How would that have suddenly become the practice only starting with the Raya'tz?

What I can also say definitively, having visited the Ohel of the Baal HaTanya, is that it is certainly done there now.

In any case, all of this is irrelevant to the story being discussed here. It was only thrown into the mix by some k'vetchers.

I have known Shmuli Brown since before he was even a twinkle in his father's eye. He is not one to shy away from a controversy if it is necessary to deal with it. He is charismatic, popular & an excellent Shliach.

However, he was wrong in going in there. I don't think Jews should use that room - maybe al pi Halacha it's OK, but why do we have to daven there? Why not by the gate, like I and others do? Sometimes, it's best just to find an alternative. But since he went in there, the attendant was 1000% wrong & Shmuli is right to take it further. This is just another example of the sun setting on Britain, to be replaced by Islam. Time to leave Karachi.

45

 Nov 12, 2015 at 01:13 PM Mayer Says:

Most of these comments lose sight of the simple issue here. It is up to each individual to decide whether they want to use the multi-faith room, after consulting with his or her Rov if he or she wishes so to do. The issue here is whether one faith, Islam, where they pray without their shoes on, and its adherents set the ground rules and whether the room owner agrees that people of all faiths should be asked to remove their shoes. The only connection Chabad has this is that the Heathrow Jewish Chaplain is a member of Chabad and he should be pursuing this so that this situation does not arise again.

46

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