This just in ... and it would have never happened if it had been a Moslem man saying his prayers at the rear of the plane!
FYI for uninformed readers...this Orthodox Jewish man was reciting the Shemona Esrei of Maariv, and it is forbidden to move from the place you begin the prayer until you finish the prayer, which is why he couldn't return to his seat until he finished his recitation.
Halacha (Jewish Law) states that Maariv can't be recited until 3 stars are visible in the night sky, which is why he couldn't have done it any earlier (like in the airport itself while waiting for the plane). Because the plane was flying WEST (towards San Francisco) he couldn't have done it while the plane was in-flight because it would be lighter not darker the more west-ward the plane went, and by the time it would be dark enough it would be too late to say the prayer.
Praying passenger removed from plane at NY airport
(c) Associated Press
A passenger who left his seat to pray in the back of a plane before it took off, ignoring flight attendants' orders to return, was removed by an airport security guard, a witness and the airline said.
The Orthodox Jewish man, who wore a full beard, a black hat and a long black coat, stood near the lavatories and began saying his prayers while the United Airlines jet was being boarded at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday night, said Ori Brafman, a fellow passenger who spoke about the incident by phone from San Francisco, where he lives.
When flight attendants urged the man, who was carrying a religious book, to take his seat, he ignored them, Brafman said. Two friends, who were seated, tried to tell the attendants that the man couldn't stop until after he'd finished his prayers in about 2 minutes, he said.
When the man finally stopped praying, he explained that he couldn't interrupt his religious ritual and wasn't trying to be rude. But the attendants summoned a guard to remove him, said Brafman, a writer who had been visiting New York to talk to publishers.
The plane, Flight 9 to San Francisco, took off without the man. It landed at its destination as scheduled, Brafman said.
Robin Urbanski, a spokeswoman for United Airlines, a subsidiary of UAL Corp. with headquarters in Chicago, confirmed the man was taken off the plane and put on another flight Thursday morning.
Urbanski said flights cannot depart if all passengers are not in their seats, which risks a delay, and it is important that passengers listen to the instructions of the flight crew.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs area airports, and the Transportation Security Administration, which handles airport security, said Thursday they weren't involved in the incident.