Radio hosts blast 'Respect the Mezuzah' campaign

Anti-religious radio presenter Natan Zehavi lashes out at 'primitive' new campaign encouraging respect for mezuzahs.

Shlomo Pietrekovsky,

Flash 90

Radio presenter Natan Zehavi, known for his vociferously anti-religious stances, has lashed out at a new campaign featuring government officials, entertainers, and ordinary Israelis, urging people to “respect the mezuzah,” especially during troubled times.

According to Zehavi, the campaign appeals to the superstitious only, and encourages the values of primitivity and backwardness.

There is no limit to the stupidity,” said Zehavi of the campaign, which urges Israelis to kiss the mezuzah – the Biblically-mandated parchment scroll that is place on doorways, that is said to protect homes – when they enter and leave a building.

“What about all the religious people who left their homes and kissed the mezuzah and then got shot up in a terror attack? Was their mezuzah 'unkosher' somehow?”

The campaign, a project of the The Union of Congregational Rabbis, features a video, print and web ads, and social media messages stressing the importance of the mezuzah in Jewish life.

The campaign's purpose is to promote a new, free app that users can download and check to see if their mezuzahs are ritually kosher, or if they are missing text or other features that would require repair.

Prominent in the social media campaign is a widely-distributed video featuring top politicians and entertainers, talking about the importance of the mezuzah in Jewish life.

Among those appearing in the video are Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, Zionist Union MKs Eitan Cabel and Revital Swed, Jewish Home MK Nissan Slomiansky, and musicians David D'Or and Reef Cohen, among others.

Rabbi Amihai Eliyahu, head of the organization, said that the app is much in demand, and has been downloaded thousands of times since it was introduced last week.

For Zehavi, the whole thing is nothing more than “superstitious nonsense. Were the Jews who got killed in the Har Nof synagogue last year protected? And then they get mad when we call them 'primitive.'"

Also knocking the project was radio host Gabi Gazit – also not a “fan” of religious values, but considered much more moderate than “hothead” Zehavi – who said that “now I understand that every time I got sick, it was because I forgot to kiss the mezuzah.”

In response, Rabbi Eliyahu said that “what Zehavi and Gazit are saying is simple demagoguery to make fun of Jewish values and turn the mezuzah into some form of idol worship. The public has proven that it considers the words of people like these to be nonsense, and it is more connected to its traditions than ever. That clearly bothers these two.”