The Shaimos Box
“OU”-Supervised Burial of your Holy Writings
green, comes conveniently flat but opens up to a large size, is
used daily, makes your life easier
and was just invented? Why the Shaimos Box, of course!
For years Jews have
struggled, letting their shaimos pile up, unsure if what they
saved were really holy writings that needed to be put away in
genizah or buried ritually, often missing the small margin of
time when the local shul ran a shaimos collection
before Pesach, and then having to keep their shaimos
somewhere or other for another 12 months.
Benny Goldstein changed
all that for good. Benny, a graphic artist (see his animated Talmud
www.animatedtalmud.com*), located in Chicago introduced the
Shaimos Box to Rosenblum’s World of Judaica where it has enjoyed a
brisk business for two years. Now he’s going national with the “OU”
providing on-site supervision so that the burial is k’halacha.
The program is
simplicity itself. You walk into a Hebrew bookstore anywhere in the
US and buy a green box. Made of very strong corrugated material, the
Shaimos Box measures 12” x 7” x 15”, enough, says Benny, for 20
pounds of shaimos. Put it in a corner of the house and let it
fill up. When the box is full, take it to the post office and mail
it to the shaimos burial site (address is preprinted on the
Once it arrives at
the burial location, the “OU” certifies that the care, handling and
burial is k’halacha with the actual burial being performed
under constant supervision of the “OU”. It’s not a food issue but it
is a kosher one and therefore Benny went to the “OU” Kashrus
Department to supervise the proper handling of your shaimos.
The “OU” was
excited by the idea. For years there was a major problem with
shaimos; now there is a solution — the Shaimos Box.
Can’t find a box at your
store? Then go online to shaimos.org and order one online.
Better yet, tell your store to order some from the distributor,
Israel Book Shop, 1-888-536-7427; 1-732-901-3009; fax–
1-732-901-4012. (These numbers are for wholesale only.)
Once you see what the
Shaimos Box is and how helpful it will be for you, get your shul,
yeshiva, or organization to make a bulk order and resell them in
your area. If your organization is running a large activity, contact
shaimos.org and maybe they will send down someone to sell the
boxes directly to individuals.
Probably the best part
of what Benny has done is that he’s given the mitzvah back to us. We
are no longer dependent on special shaimos drives in the
community. We no longer have to store a number of filled boxes of
shaimos until Pesach. Each person can order a box, fill it and
mail it away. Then start all over again.
someone can just lick the problem of where to store that huge
succah for us.
Animated Talmud is a new computer program that teaches Talmud
through animations. It is currently under development on Chapter
Ailu Metziot in Bava Metziah, the most popular introductory chapter.
The program was created for 5th or sixth grades, but is engrossing
for other ages as well. See it on
The brainchild of Benny Goldstein, the (“OU”-certified) Shaimos Box
will prove invaluable in every Jewish household. Buy several. Give
them to your shul, yeshiva, your children and position a few in
different locations at home. It will keep your shaimos pile down and
teach the importance of dealing with shaimos all 100% “OU”
OU Kosher Extends Expertise
to Burial of
Sacred Objects with “Shaimos Box”
Solving a problem that has long plagued the
Jewish community, the Orthodox Union’s Kashrut (Kosher) Department
is lending its expertise to artist Benny Goldstein to help dispose
of shaimos -- holy writings and objects -- in a simple and halachic
manner (according to Jewish law).
Disposing of shaimos is a concern for Jews. Shaimos are items which
are considered to be religiously sacred due to their use of God’s
name (shaim means name in Hebrew) and therefore may not be disposed
of in garbage, but rather must be buried. In most Jewish
communities, shaimos collectors only bury once a year, around
Passover time. The rest of the year, the Jewish community is left to
its own devices. It is therefore not unusual for a Jewish household
to collect piles of shaimos scattered throughout the house.
Particularly in an age of printers and photocopying machines, the
amount of shaimos a Jewish home accrues can often be excessive.
That problem has been solved with the “Shaimos Box.” The 12” x 7” x
15” utilitarian green box is now available through Judaica stores
and ensures that all shaimos will be buried under strict OU
rabbinical supervision. When the box is full, it is simply mailed to
the burial site at Camp Stone in Sugar Rove, PA – a site specially
purchased for the shaimos of the American Jewish community.
To make the box more user-friendly, a brief description of what
constitutes shaimos is clearly outlined on the outside of the box.
While the box points out that every rabbi may have his own
definition, it delineates four categories for shaimos: sacred
writings, such as Torah scrolls or tefilin (phylacteries); sacred
objects, such as tefilin straps; words of Torah, such as printed or
photocopied materials with biblical quotes or verse; and mitzvah
objects, such as a tallit (prayer shawl).
First appearing two years ago in Rosenblum’s World of Judaica in
Chicago, the Shaimos Box is now selling up to 15 a week, according
to Mr. Goldstein. “The OU’s the best for certifying kosher
products,” explained Mr. Goldstein. “I wanted the best. It’s as
simple as that.”
Now, with the Orthodox Union’s help, the Shaimos Box will attain a
higher level of authenticity, helping more people to simplify the
mitzva of burying shaimos. “The OU is concerned with all aspects of
Jewish life,” explained Rabbi Moshe Elefant, Executive Rabbinic
Coordinator of the OU Kashrut Department. “We see the Shaimos Box as
an opportunity for us to extend our expertise to assist the
community in all its needs.” According to Rabbi Elefant, the primary
role of the OU will be ensuring that the shaimos are buried properly
under rabbinic supervision and not discarded improperly.
To find out more about the Shaimos Box, visit their website at
Artist's invention aims to solve
longstanding problem of Jewish "trash."
TED S. STRATTON Staff Reporter
Goldstein, a sofer stam
(scribe) by profession, had a problem. He had two semi-trailers of
tattered holy writings and objects sitting in Chicago and no place
to bury them.
tradition, these items cannot be disposed of as trash, but must be
accorded a dignified burial. "The cemeteries wanted a fortune of
money" for the burial of the sacred objects, he says. It got so bad,
Goldstein admits, that he was praying for God to send him a location
to dispose of them.
Rothner, director of Camp Stone, the Young Israel/B'nei Akiva summer
camp for Cleveland youth. Rothner had been burying
- a catchall term for anything that contains the Holy Name and items
used for ritual purposes - annually at a site on the Sugar Grove,
Pa., camp. So could he take on a few extra tons of shabby
(prayer books), frayed
tallitot (prayer shawls)
and busted tefillin?
No problem, said Rothner.
solved, Goldstein began thinking of ways to avoid being in such a
situation again. Thus was born the idea for the "Shaimos Box." The
"box" is a receptacle that ensures that all shaimos (SHAY-mes) will
be buried in the right place under strict rabbinical supervision.
came up with a bag," says Goldstein. The only problem with that was
people kept mistaking it for a garbage bag, and threw it out with
their weekly trash. Not a very good fate for holy writ.
Box is a utilitarian, 12 by 7 by 15-inch cardboard box painted
green, "to represent the Earth," says Goldstein. "I wanted it to
mark a designated corner in everyone's house."
To make the
box more user-friendly, a brief description of what constitutes
shaimos is clearly outlined on the outside of the box. It specifies
four categories of shaimos: sacred writings, such as Torah and
scrolls; sacred objects, like Torah
mantles and tefillin covers; words of Torah, printed or photocopied
materials with biblical quotes or verse; and
objects, which are any items that were used in completing a
like a lulav,
the box weighs about 20 pounds. It can be mailed to the burial site
at Camp Stone, where it is put in storage until the yearly burial
ceremony, which usually takes place during Tisha b'Av.
The Camp Stone
program is unusual because most shaimos burials occur in a cemetery,
not children's camps. That's because "when you bury a
(Torah scroll), oftentimes you bury it with the body of a righteous
person, like a rabbi, to elevate the soul," Goldstein explains.
Now living in
Israel, Goldstein is optimistic that people will embrace use of the
box. "We have a distributor, Israel Bookshop, and are selling up to
15 a week," he says. The box retails for $9.99. The Orthodox Union
has even lent its approval, bestowing the coveted "OU" symbol that
signifies a kosher product.
"The OU is
concerned with all aspects of Jewish life," explains Rabbi Moshe
Elfant, Executive Rabbinic Coordinator of the OU Kashrut Department.
"We see the Shaimos Box as an opportunity for us to extend our
expertise to assist the community in all its needs."
Behind the OU Union Symbol. Summer 2005
N'shei Chabad News Letter June 2005
Bakehelah News Pepper December 2005
Click on the image to enlarge