Israeli official: Don’t pray on graven image

Israeli official: Don’t pray on graven image

Don’t touch the artwork.

That’s the message from Ramat Gan Deputy Mayor Adva Pollak, after a statue in the city’s art garden started to draw young religious women looking to get pregnant.

The statue, “Birth,” by the late artist Menashe Kadishman, is becoming a shrine, and that makes municipal officials unhappy.

“We inform the public that this statue has no special powers, and is merely one of many works of art on display in the park,” Pollak was quoted as telling Yediot Acharonot. “It would be wrong to attribute such powers to the statue. We welcome visitors who wish to enjoy the art, but I call on them to refrain from lying on it.”

A Ramat Gan resident told Yediot that he first noticed the pilgrimage to “Birth” this summer, not long after it was installed in the park.

“They huddle around the statue and then lie on it one after another,” he was quoted as saying. The women were seen reading scripture, especially Psalms, around the statue.

The metal statue features a rough outline of a woman with large breasts and a smiley face etched into her stomach.

Kadishman died last year at 83. While his acclaimed oeuvre featured many religious symbols, including sacrificial sheep, he was an avowed secularist. He was eulogized by his friend Haim Shtenger as “the secular equivalent of a great rabbi” and a “cultural icon” associated with secularism of Tel Aviv.

Israel has seen a number of faddish sites where women go to improve their chances of conceiving, including a cafe said to serve a salad with supernatural powers and a supermarket in Ashdod where customers could sit on a special throne-like fertility chair.

JTA Wire Service

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