"This shows contempt for holy writings that [according to Jewish law] must be buried in a genizah. I hope God-fearing people will not buy these displays for art, but to bring them to genizah facilities for burial that they deserve. It is inconceivable that a thing like this [art show] could occur in the Land of Israel.”
One of the 'offending' artworks
Chief Rabbis Protest “Blasphemous” Art, Threaten To Find Ways To Close Gallery
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Israel’s haredi chief rabbis are protesting a Tel Aviv art gallery’s decision to show the work of a French artist, labeling the artist’s work “blasphemy,” Ynet reported.
Located on the fashionable Dizengoff Street, the galley is displaying dozens of works by the artist, all called Gemara and all made - in part - from the pages of an old Talmud volume rolled into glass tubes inserted or glued into the canvas. Each sells for about $1600.
The Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger called the art show and the art itself "a catastrophe" and expressed the hope that whoever purchased these paintings would do so to return the pages of the Talmud to their rightful place.
"This [‘art’ show] shows contempt for holy writings that [by Jewish law] must be buried in a genizah. I hope God-fearing people will not buy these displays for art, but to bring them to genizah facilities for burial that they deserve. It is inconceivable that a thing like this [art show] could occur in the Land of Israel,” Metzger said.
The artworks incorporating Talmud pages are displayed pieces are displayed alongside standard works of art, some of which are deemed immodest by the rabbis (please see the photo posted below), as well, further provoking them.
The artist, a French woman who uses the name Else, bought the Talmud volume from a dealer in Sefat and rejects any claims of disrespect to Jewish tradition.
“I am traditional myself, and two years ago, when I painted the children of Israel coming out of Egypt, I was inspired to add the pages of the Talmud that seemed to be a Jewish symbol," she explained. "Later I added the pages into my other works, as well."
Else said that she encounters occasional protests over her use of the Talmud pages.
“People walk along the street, they see my work in the window, enter the gallery and shout at me. They tell me [the pages] are not to be used that way. I tell them in response, ‘you ask your rabbi.’ Not long ago, two women were demonstrating outside the gallery against the my work."
In an official statement, the chief rabbinate expressed “disgust” with the show and with the artwork, and said it was “examining the tools it had at available to it to stop the show and to prevent the recurrence of such incidents."