What is a Sheimos Bank used for?
Halacha forbids us from destroying any item that has kedusha associated with it. These items fall into various categories – first, those that have intrinsic kedusha, which includes anything from mezuzos and tefillin,and printed sefarim such as siddurim, chumashim and gemaros.This would also include any printed papers (newspapers, magazines, Parsha sheets) that include the name of Hashem in full. Sifrei Torah constitute a category of their
own and need to be treated with extra kedusha and as such should not be placed in the Sheimos Bank (see table for further details).
Which names of Hashem need real Geniza?
The seven names of Hashem recorded in the table below, may not be erased and geniza (burial) is required when disposing of them. In order to avoid requirement for geniza of this page, they have to be changed from the way in which one would find them in a chumash or siddur.
In each word a letter has been replaced with ’ק.
When Hashem’s names as listed have been transliterated they require geniza.
When in direct reference to Hashem, terms describing Hashem’s middos such as רחום
are used, they require burial as geniza. This needs to be judged contextually.
Which names can be discarded?
When found in newspapers, Parsha sheets etc, Hashem’s names can be discarded by double-wrapping in the following cases:
– When one of the letters has been replaced (like in the above with ק)
– If a hyphen separates the letters
– If two letters have been merged (this became convention in some siddurim with the letters א and ל)
– Additional names of Hashem can be respectfully discarded (double wrapped):
– Where Hashem’s name has been replaced with two letters י
– English translations such as “God”, “Almighty” and “Hashem”
-’ ה or ’ ש – single letter references such as these are viewed by poskim as being possible shorthand for one of the above names and therefore should be double-wrapped.
How do I place items in the bank?
Items that are placed in the Sheimos Bank should be put into bags before inserting in the slot. Please note that mezuzos and tefillin should be individually wrapped before inserting and care should be taken to ensure that the wrapping is waterproof.
What is a Sheimos Bank not to be used for?
Printed material that includes Divrei Torah or incidental mention of Divrei Torah (see table for examples) are not subject to the same halachos as items with kedusha, but they may not be treated with direct bizayon,i.e in a manner that ‘disgraces’ them.(See question below for further details).Sefarim or Torah books that are still usable should not be discarded in a Sheimos Bank but rather kept until they are no longer fitting to be used.
Do all newspapers and magazines with Torah content need to be recycled?
Only the pages that contain Torah content may not be thrown directly into the bin.Moreover, if the content has not been read it does not assume sanctity and the pages may be disposed of in any fashion.
Who should I contact if I have questions or I’m not sure?
If you have a question as to whether your item is sheimos or not, you can
contact the Federation’s shaila service Shaila Text by sending a message to
07860 017 641, for a response within four working hours.
Do I need to pay to use this service?
The Federation’s Sheimos L’Geniza Service is offered to the entire community
free of charge. However, we do appreciate donations that help to defray the
cost of transporting the sheimos items for burial. To make a donation text
SHEM05 £1/£2/£3/£4/£5 to 70070 or visit www.federation.org.uk
It would be great if there was a Sheimos Bank closer to
my home! Who do I contact to find out more about setting
To find out if it is possible to set up a Federation Sheimos L’Geniza near you,
please email email@example.com or telephone 020 8202 2263
Updated Cheshvan 5784 under the direction of Rav S.F. Zimmerman ,שליט”א
Rov and Av Beis Din of Kehillas Federation