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Israeli celebrities covertly paid to extol Jewish laws around sex and menstruation

The social media influencers encouraged women to observe Jewish menstruation-related laws without properly disclosing that they were sponsored by a pro-religion group

This article originally appeared on Haaretz, and was reprinted here with permission. Sign up here to get Haaretz’s free Daily Brief newsletter delivered to your inbox.

Multiple non-observant Israeli celebrities have been paid by a pro-religion organization to promote observance of Judaism’s “family purity” laws – and have failed to disclose that remuneration.

The organization, “She’asani Isha” – a reference to a morning prayer in which Jewish men thank God for not making them women – launched the campaign to encourage women to adhere to menstruation-related rules.

In one video, for instance, recently married celebrity influencer Shai Mika was covertly paid to say, “I’m observing the menstruation laws because I really want to.” She said in the video that she decided to get closer to religion due to difficulties she experienced during the pandemic and around the wedding.

The conversation with another celebrity, Yael Bar Zohar, was posted on She’asani Isha’s website, and Mika has been quoted similarly on multiple news sites and TV shows.

The menstruation laws refer to Jewish Orthodox women traditionally refraining from physical contact with their husbands during their period, after which they immerse in a ritual bath, or mikveh, before resuming sexual relations.

“Everything that happens today starts with internet stars,” said She’asani Isha’s head, businesswoman Ruthie Leviev-Yelizarov, during a TV interview on Tuesday. “It does not matter if it is a product, or yogurt or anything else. We paid them, as they are supposed to be paid.”

Leviev-Yelizarov is the daughter of Russian-Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, a major financial supporter of the ultraorthodox Chabad Hasidic sect who is wanted for questioning on financial irregularities and has been sheltering in Moscow for the past four years. Leviev is otherwise best known for his real estate dealings and for cracking the world diamond market in the 1980s.

 

 

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