Both the Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection have notified field personnel about the upcoming Sukkos holiday and that many Jews will be traveling with arbaah minim.
The guidance has been sent out to federal officials at airports and border crossings, emphasizing the religious significance of these items and outlining the rules and procedures of their transport.
The TSA notice makes clear that the arbaah minim are not on the “prohibited items list” and provides instructions for travelers needing “special accommodations” in regard to checkpoint screening. The CBP Guidance sets forth detailed information regarding the inspection process for arbaah minim entering the United States from foreign countries. The time period for TSA is from Sept. 11, 2013 until Oct. 4, 2013. The Border Patrol’s guidelines are from Sept. 15, 2013 until Oct. 4, 2013.
“We are gratified by the sensitivity of these agencies to the religious concerns of our community,” said Rabbi Abba Cohen, Agudath Israel’s Vice President for Federal Affairs and Washington Director. “They are taking meaningful and appropriate steps to accommodate our religious needs.”
TSA’s screening procedures do not prohibit the carrying of the arbaah minim. However, all persons and property will undergo security screening at the checkpoint.
Travelers requiring special accommodations or concerned about checkpoint screening may ask a checkpoint officer or supervisor for a Passenger Support Specialist. Travelers may also request a Passenger Support specialist ahead of time by calling 855-787-2227.
CPB provides the following guidance for travelers:
Esrogim: Personal shipments of esrogim are allowed through North Atlantic and Northern Pacific ports of entry after inspection by CBP Agriculture Specialists. North Atlantic ports include Baltimore; ports on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway; Canadian border ports east of and including North Dakota; Andrews Air Force Base, and Washington, D.C. (including Dulles) for air shipments. Northern Pacific ports are defined as Pacific ports north of California including: Alaska, Canadian border ports west of and including Montana, excluding Hawaii.
Travelers will be asked to open the container with the esrog and unwrap it for inspection by an agriculture specialist. The esrog may be prohibited from entering the United States if it is found to contain stings or pests.
Lulavim will be inspected by agriculture specialists and released if no pests or symptoms of disease are found.
If aravos are from Europe, they will be prohibited from entering the United States. If they are from places other than Europe, they will be inspected by agriculture specialists and released if no pests or symptoms of disease are found. Also, if the aravos are green, have soft tissue present, or have buds that sprouted, then they are prohibited entry.
Hadassim will be inspected by agriculture specialists and released if no pests or symptoms of disease are found.