In the Wake of Passover, Scammers Dump Holy Scraps They Were Paid to Bury
Several weeks, ago, the NY Times reported:
On any ordinary day, yellow school buses with the Hebrew names of yeshivas dominate the ultra-Orthodox landscape of Borough Park, Brooklyn. But in the days before Passover, large trucks parked along many of the sidewalks are far more striking, particularly those bearing signs with a Hebrew word obscure even to most Jews: Sheimos.
Sheimos (pronounced SHAME-os) is a term for religious books containing the Hebrew name of God that need to be ritually buried in the ground.
As Passover approaches, Orthodox Jews strive to rid their homes of even the slightest trace of bread or other unleavened grain products known as chametz, almost down to the molecule. Bibles, prayer books and volumes of Talmud receive a thorough airing as well, and the most dog-eared specimens are often discarded. But Jewish religious law considers throwing them in the trash a desecration.
So parked all day on many streets in Borough Park and nearby neighborhoods like Midwood are trucks whose drivers will carry books to a cemetery upstate for a fee of about $8 to $10 a box.
Today it was reported (but not by the Times):
Brooklyn, NY - Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) was outraged to learn that a van full of shaimos had been abandoned in Borough Park.
A resident of the community called the Assemblyman this morning to complain of a van that had been parked in the community since Pesach. When a member of the Assemblyman’s staff went to investigate, he discovered a box van with out-of-state license plates that had received several parking tickets. A look inside revealed that the back of the van was full of boxes containing shaimos (books or other sacred objects which can no longer be used but may not be destroyed).
‘This is not the first time that con artists have pulled this kind of stunt,’ said Assemblyman Hikind. ‘The disposal of shaimos is often done around Pesach when people are cleaning and they have no idea who it is that’s accepting their packages of shaimos on the streets. It’s a cash-and-carry business that’s ripe for scammers. What an absolute disgrace.’
SHAME-os is right!