Chief Rabbinate has threatened to stop an art gallery in Tel Aviv from exhibiting works using original Talmud pages "sacrilegiously."
Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger said he hoped someone would purchase the artwork for thousands of shekels – so that they would be removed from the gallery.
Radio Kol Hai revealed that the gallery, located on Dizengoff Street, displays dozens of such works designed from ancient Talmud pages inserted into glass tubes and glued onto canvas pictures.
They works are called "Gmara" and the cheapest one is being sold for NIS 6,000 (about $1,610).
Else's work. 'People come into the gallery and shout at me' (Photo: Dvora Ginsburg)
Next to them the gallery displays standard works of art, some of which may be perceived as "immodest" and offend religious sentiments as well – especially being so close to pages of the Holy Scriptures.
The artist, a French woman who refers to herself as "Else," told Kol Hai reporter Dvora Ginsburg that the pages were taken from an ancient Talmud she bought from an art dealer in France.
"I'm a traditional Jew, and two years ago, when I was drawing the Jewish people's exodus from Egypt, I got the inspiration to add the Talmud pages which I saw as a Jewish symbol," she explained. "I later combined the pages in my other works."
'Immodest' artwork next to Talmud pages (Photo: Dvora Ginsburg)
The woman said she was sometimes met by protests against her use of the Talmud pages, but added that she did not think it was forbidden.
"There are people who pass by on the street, see the artwork, come into the gallery and shout at me. They tell me I'm not allowed to use Holy Scriptures that way. I tell them in response, 'Go ask your rabbi.' Not so long ago two women protested against the works outside the gallery."
Chief Rabbi Metzger defined the exhibition as a "catastrophe," saying that "the Holy Scriptures are being desecrated. I hope that God-fearing people avoid buying these exhibits for art purposes, but do so in order to bring them to proper repository facilities. It is unthinkable that such a thing could happen in the Land of Israel."
The Chief Rabbinate issued the following statement in response: "In the name of cultural pretense, this woman who calls herself an artist is desecrating her people's holy cultural treasures.
"The Chief Rabbinate is disgusted by this exhibit and will use any possible means both in order to stop the display and in order to prevent such incidents from repeating."