Image posted on the Muqata blog.
An Israeli TV network has agreed to take down billboards advertising a saucy soap after rabbis complained about the Judaic scriptures used in the background. The only problem - the ads are emblazoned with the name of God, meaning they'll have to be given a proper burial.
The national advertising campaign was launched to publicise the second series of Israel's favourite TV series, Srugim. The show, which tells the story of a group of 30-something Zionist, religious professionals who, unmarried, become engaged in certain acts, is popular with just about everyone except very strict Jews. So when the new ads went up at the start of the year with a backdrop up of Torah scriptures, those same strict Jews made it their business to have them taken down.
The company which produces the show, "YES! Satellite Broadcasting", agreed to remove them shortly afterwards. But just after their announcement, a new problem arose, when the "Central Organization for the Geniza of Holy Texts" voiced concerns over the fate of the billboards. As the Jewish word for "god" was included in the image, the posters would have to be buried in a geniza, or burial site for holy texts, they said. On Wednesday, YES promised the organisation that they would bury the billboards properly.
A screenshot from series one of the show. © Yes! Satellite Broadcasting.
The billboard (seen at the top of the page) reads "Second season. Knitted - Twice is better". It refers to the knitted "kipa" (head covering) the men wear, and the phrase: "It was good", spoken by God twice on the third day. See the billboard in big here.
“To avoid having to bury too much stuff in the geniza, people usually spell god’s name differently when they write it down”
Ariel Woolf is a rabbinical school teacher from Efrat, near Hebron.
Using genizas might sound mad to outsiders, but for us it's completely normal to think about whether we throw things away or not. It's not only books, it's also some items of clothing, like the tsitsit (the braids that hang from a man's shirt, considered holy). When they get torn and can't be worn any longer, they don't go in the bin, they go in the geniza.
God's name is incredibly sacred in Judaism - if you should ever speak it, you will be sent neither to heaven nor hell but nowhere at all. The only person to have ever spoken his name was Moses, because he was very close to God. When talking about God we say things like ‘the almighty' to get around this.
To avoid having to bury too much stuff in the geniza, people usually spell God's name differently when they write it down, or use different intonations on the letters. That way your paper isn't considered holy.
Srugim has caused so much trouble with the very religious because it specifies that the characters are Jewish, but shows them disobeying certain rules of modesty, like unmarried men and women touching each other - which is forbidden in Judaism, even if it's casual. I would add also, that the show is perhaps disliked even more because it's a pretty good depiction of a certain faction of Jews in Israel...
The person who directs the show, Laizy Shapira, is religious himself. So there's no saying he wasn't planning to send the billboards to the geniza after the campaign."
How and where to bury your holy belongings properly
Genizas like these ones can be found on the streets in Israeli. The Geniza is almost like another rubbish bin; its contents are also collected by the authorities and buried, only in a different place. The woman in the photo is apparently complaining that people put rubbish in the geniza. Image posted on Flickr by "Ask?"
Schools have a geniza for children to be able to dispose of holy texts. Periodically the contents are taken out and buried in a cemetery. Posted by blogger David Bogner.
A model geniza on the inside. Many synagogues have a geniza in the cellar, which is reached through a hole in the floor. Photo "by photos8.com".
The outside of a geniza seen in Cuba. Posted by Flickr user "arfried".
Genizas are often part of a human burial sites, like this one at the Oheb Shalom Cemetery, New Jersey. Posted on the Newark History website.