(photo credit: Nadia Beidas)
You won't find cola, cigarettes or packs of gum in the lonely vending machine on the third floor of the capital's central bus station. Instead, you'll find siddurim, machzorim and other religious books on sale for just NIS 10-15.
The vending machine is there because of Meoros HaDaf HaYomi, an organization dedicated to spreading the study of Judaism in general and Gemara in particular. HaDaf HaYomi has more than 500 classes around the country and publishes books, videos and audio clips on the Internet.
Since it was founded in 1998, the group has devoted much of its efforts to creatively marketing and distributing material related to Judaism. The bus station vending machine is an extension of those efforts. It's been a success so far, a secretary at Meoros HaDaf HaYomi told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
"They come and refill the machine once a month," the bus station's manager said. "I even bought one!" he said, pulling an abridged volume of Talmud out of his drawer.
Daf yomi means "a page a day," and refers to practice of studying the entire 2,711-page Babylonian Talmud, one folio (double-sided page) at a time, in a cycle of seven-and-a-half years, followed by many Jews around the world. Part of Meoros HaDaf HaYomi's mission is to involve more people in this enterprise. That's why most rows from A-1 to E-9 in the vending machine are decorated with little volumes of the Talmud.
Meoros HaDaf Hayomi pays the central bus station to use its space and charges nominal prices for the books.
Profit isn't the point, according to one member of the organization's staff who wished to remain anonymous. "It's about reaching out to people," he said, "and we're hoping that the vending machine will catch their attention."