Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, one of the most prominent Religious Zionism leaders, has justified the decision to blur a picture of Ruti Fogel,
who was brutally murdered
in the settlement of Itamar along with her husband and three of their children, in a weekly bulleting published by the Meir Institute.
The rabbi addressed the incident in a video response to a reader's question on the Maale website. "It's an act of respect," he said. "Although she has died, it doesn't mean she shouldn’t be respected."
Rabbi Aviner is one of the leaders of the Meir Institute, which publishes the "In love and faith" bulletin, and a regular columnist. He is known for his strict halachic opinion, especially when it comes to modesty issues.
"Had she been asked when she was alive – this is what she would have wanted," he said about Ruti Fogel and her blurred people. "Just because a person a dead doesn't mean their picture can be taken lightly."
The rabbi concluded his response with the words, "God have mercy."
Meir Institute head Rabbi Dov Bigon, on the other hand, defined the censorship as a "human error".
Bigon told his students on Sunday that immediately after the institute workers saw the bulletin, they apologized to the Fogel and Ben Yishai (Ruti's parents) families, but later realized that many other readers had also been offended.
"I would like to take this opportunity to ask for the forgiveness of anyone we might have hurt," he said. "We definitely had no intention of offending anyone, and this was all a human error."
The well-known and veteran pamphlet, which is distributed in many synagogues around the country, published the picture last week ahead of a memorial ceremony in honor of the Fogel family.
The picture features the father and mother, Udi and Ruti, and three of their children: Yoav, 11, Elad, 4, and Hadas, 4 months. The photo caption reads, "God will remember them among the other righteous people in the world."
Many religious media outlets avoid publishing women's pictures, and in extreme cases don't even mention women's names. Other similar pamphlets publish women's names only when they have fallen victim to terror attacks.
Machon Meir stated in response over the weekend: "The 'In love and faith' bulletin is a religious bulletin distributed and read inside synagogues. Therefore, its policy is not to publish women's photos.
"The publication of this ad in such a way was a human error and did not mean to offend anyone. The institute apologized to the family, and the family accepted its apology with complete understanding."