Te­fillin boxes are not your toy, ‘Eretz Ne­hed­eret’ told

Satir­i­cal TV show ac­cused of sac­ri­lege

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By JEREMY SHARON

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Naf­tali Ben­nett wear­ing te­fillin boxes on his head mim­ick­ing Netta Barzi­lai’s pony­tails might strike some as funny, but the coun­try’s reli­gious lead­er­ship, and even the prime min­is­ter him­self, did not ap­pre­ci­ate the joke.

The storm arose af­ter the po­lit­i­cal satire show Eretz Ne­hed­eret poked fun at how po­lit­i­cal lead­ers have swooned in col­lec­tive adu­la­tion at Barzi­lai’s Euro­vi­sion Song Con­test win last week­end, with im­per­son­ators of Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu and Ben­nett idol­iz­ing the singer by mim­ick­ing her dis­tinc­tive coif­fure.

Ne­tanyahu was given two gray swirly hair buns to match his silver mane, while Ben­nett’s im­per­son­ator sported what ap­peared to be two empty te­fillin boxes perched on ei­ther side of his head.

Out­rage and de­nun­ci­a­tion from the chief rabbi, and the heads of the haredi po­lit­i­cal par­ties United To­rah Ju­daism and Shas, was quick in com­ing, as they ful­mi­nated at Eretz Ne­hed­eret’s sac­ri­lege on Wed­nes­day night.

“Use of holy ar­ti­cles to dis­par­age, ridicule and of­fend is aw­ful and ter­ri­ble, it’s some­thing to­tally un­ac­cept­able that some­thing like this is broad­cast on Is­raeli tele­vi­sion,” Chief Rabbi David Lau fumed, adding that the use of the te­fillin boxes in this way “tram­pled on the sen­si­tiv­i­ties of mil­lions of Jews.”

The real Ben­nett, who is chair­man of Bayit Ye­hudi, posted a picture on his Face­book page of him wear­ing te­fillin, say­ing “they can make fun of me as much as they want, but [to make fun of] te­fillin and the holy things of Is­rael – no,” adding somberly that he was a proud te­fillin wearer and a proud Jew.

UTJ chair­man and Deputy Health Min­is­ter MK Ya’acov Litz­man de­clared he was “very out­raged” by the con­temp­tu­ous use of te­fillin by Eretz Ne­hed­eret, say­ing it was “a se­vere in­jury to Jewish tra­di­tion, which I strongly con­demn.”

“Hu­mor and satire also have their red­lines which you don’t ever cross. The holy things of Is­rael and Jewish val­ues are not dis­plays for en­ter­tain­ment and ridicule. It’s an ut­ter dis­grace to do of­fense to te­fillin in the Jewish state and on of­fi­cial broad­cast­ers,” said the in­dig­nant deputy min­is­ter

And Shas chair­man Arye Deri also weighed in, calling the show “dis­grace­ful and in­sult­ing” for hav­ing mocked te­fillin, “which Jews gave up their lives to use through­out the gen­er­a­tions.”

Ne­tanyahu also deemed it to be wor­thy of com­ment, tweet­ing “You don’t have to wear a kippa to un­der­stand the im­por­tance of our tra­di­tion and the fu­ture of our peo­ple. It is the essence of our ex­is­tence. It is what dis­tin­guishes and strength­ens us. I am in fa­vor of satire, but there are things you just don’t do.”

Eretz Ne­hed­eret said in re­sponse that the show was sim­ply try­ing to re­flect the broad pub­lic in­ter­est in Barzi­lai’s win.

“Netta’s hair­style was in­cor­po­rated on the heads of some of the char­ac­ters par­tic­i­pat­ing in the skit, in dif­fer­ent forms. There was no in­ten­tion of hurt­ing or de­grad­ing,” the show said.


AN AC­TOR IM­I­TAT­ING Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Naf­tali Ben­nett sports te­fillin boxes, in homage to Is­raeli Euro­vi­sion vic­tor Netta Barzi­lai’s hairdo.

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