A Strictly Orthodox magazine that blurred the faces of women from a picture of Jews in a concentration camp has acknowledged the “hurt” it caused.
Charedi publication Mishpacha, which published in Hebrew and English and has a circulation in the tens of thousands, ran the picture alongside an article describing the experiences of twins experimented by the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele in Auschwitz.
The article included a picture of a Holocaust survivor with a number on his arm, holding up a book in which a photograph is shown of women and children in the camps. However, while the children in the photograph were visible, the faces of the women were pixelated.
Most Strictly Orthodox publications do not publish pictures of women.
Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll, founder of Chochmat Nashim, a religious women’s organization in Israel, and a contributor to the JC, expressed her “utter disgust” at Mishpacha’s behaviour.
“If she’s a Nazi victim, you’ve murdered her again, if she’s a Holocaust Survivor, you’ve done what the Nazis didn’t, and if she’s a liberator you’ve desecrated her name,” she wrote on social media. Other commenters labelled the pixilation as “despicable” and “horrifying”.
Sruli Besser, one of Mishpacha’s editors, published a statement on Facebook addressing the issue on Monday, acknowledging that “readers and commenters were offended and reached out to me”.
He said that the English-language version of the magazine would not have pixelated the image, but that “the article was a translation from the Hebrew Mishpacha, which follows different guidelines and standards: they pixelated it, in accordance with their policies.”
“One of the artists in [our] graphics department was working on the piece and noticed it. She reasoned that the pixelation was done for another reason - not because of gender, but because of a different sensitivity, and as such, it could be included in the English that way. Her well-meaning mistake was that the image had been 'enhanced' to protect the dignity of the subject.
“That was not the case. The resultant hurt is in place. I would certainly get upset about seeing an image with the holy face of a survivor tampered with.”
But critics said there is no prohibition in Halachah regarding the depiction of modestly dressed women.
They also pointed out that the editor had appeared, while explaining how a woman had been pixelated, to blame a woman.
Mr Besser said in a later statement: “To reiterate, pixelating a Holocaust victim, or, to be honest, pixelating any tzelem Elokim [image of God] was a regrettable error. It was a mistake. It won’t happen again, be’ezras Hashem [with God’s help].”
At the time of writing, the article in question – complete with pixelated picture – was still available to read on Mishpacha’s website.