Mamzerim Exhibition * Book * Film * Activism

Mamzerim Exhibition 1.10.17-16.11.17; Book Launch 29.10.17

Bezeq Building, Chopin 12, Jerusalem.

Mamzerut’s mark of shame is imprinted upon innocent children.
An artistic-activist journey into the stories of men, women and children, punished by people in the name of God.

‘Mamzer’ is a halakhic concept that has received legal status in the State of Israel, and according to which a person born as the result of sexual relations forbidden in the Torah – to a married woman from a man other than her husband; from incest; or to a parent themselves a mamzer – is forbidden to marry other Jews, a prohibition that is passed on to his descendants for all generations. The mamzer is banished from Jewish society, punished his entire life for the actions of his parents, grandparents and ancestors. This ongoing human tragedy, taking place even today in Jewish and Israeli society, is shrouded in secrecy and concealment. In order to prevent their assimilation into Jewish society, the Chief Rabbinate, acting as an executive arm of the State of Israel, is maintaining a secret and computerized database of those forbidden from marrying, known as the ‘Blacklist’.

The project aims to raise public awareness and arouse discussion in the political, academic, halakhic and artistic arenas with the objective of exposing the prices paid by the mamzerim, their families and society at large, and in order to recognize the resultant social injustices. We hope that the public discourse will motivate key figures in the fields of halakha, law and policy-making to search for possible solutions and to bring an end to the injustice caused by people in the name of God.

The exhibition ‘Mamzerim: Misbegotten’ (Curators: Emily Bilski and Nurit Jacobs-Yinon; Artists: JAS members Andi Arnovitz and Ken Goldman, plus Nurit Jacobs-Yinon, Mira Maylor) is currently on display as part of the Third Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art 1.10.17-16.11.17.

The book ‘Mamzerim: Labeled and Erased’ is a bilingual book (Hebrew-English), the first of its kind on the subject of mamzerut. The book includes academic essays, modern midrashim and artistic images encompassing the subject of mamzerut from a range of perspectives: halakha, civil, social, cultural and historical. Among the contributing authors are Israel Prize Jewish Studies Laureate Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sperber, Founding Head of the Rackman Center and Vice-Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) – Prof. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, curator and art scholar Emily Bilski, Head of the ITIM Institute – Rabbi Shaul Farber, Director of Yeshivat Hadar (New York) Rabbi Ethan Tucker, Prof. Yehuda Friedlander, Rabbinic Advocate Rivkah Lubitch, Executive Director and Founder of the Center for Women’s Justice – Dr. Susan Weiss, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at Haifa University – Prof. Gur Alroey, Prof. Zvi Zohar, Dr. Elisabeth Goldwyn, Dr. Ronit Irshai and others.

In order to complete production of the film, to promote discussion by all the relevant policymakers, and to arouse a public discourse, they need your support and participation in the project

Please join them in the crowdfunding campaign, buy the book via advance purchase, or choose another gift, and help make a change: