The word “genizah” means hidden and is used to describe both the burial place for holy items and the items themselves. Another term for holy items is “shaimos,” which means names. This is a reference to any writing that has Hashem’s name on it and must therefore be deposited in the genizah and not thrown away.
Old tefillin, mezuzahs and papers with divrei Torah on them are all considered shaimos and must be treated carefully. When we respect holy items, we show our respect for Hashem and His words. Jewish communities around the world have arrangements for properly disposing of shaimos that are no longer needed.
Jerusalem has a special truck that collects holy items from the genizah receptacles around the city and transports them to a dedicated location. Take a ride in this special truck and experience the process, from depositing the objects in a receptacle to properly burying them. Meet the staff that organizes this and hear about the holy work that they do.
You’ll also learn how genizah is treated in Israel, what you need to know about printing presses and why being careful about these laws benefits us in the long-term.
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