The Orthodox and Israel Remembrance Day
by Aliza Bloom
April 15, 2002
Every year when journalists write stories about how Israelis commemorate Israel Remembrance Day, there are usually questions about why some members of the charedi community do not stand at attention during the two-minute period of silence.
• Most charedim stand for the siren when they are in public, and virtually all rabbinic leaders have ruled that they should do nothing to offend their fellow Jews. Some recite Psalms during the siren.
• Charedim feel the loss of every Jew just like every other citizen of Israel. No one in whose heart there remains a trace of millennial yearning for the Land of Israel, can fail to shed tears when contemplating our people’s return to our Land and the courage that made it possible.
• Charedim believe that moments of silence, like rifle salutes at military funerals or bodies lying in state, ape the mourning practices of other nations. They believe that a people which is in possession of their own unique forms of mourning have no need to copy these nations.
• More Jewish ways of commemorating national tragedies include fasting, undertaking a new mitzvah, and reciting Tehilim (psalms). For example, in a school that I attended in Jerusalem each Israel Remembrance Day, the head rabbi, who served in the military, would hold an assembly with the entire school and tell the story of his battalion’s fight to capture Jerusalem in the 1967 war. Then he would ask us to say several psalms to pray for the souls of all the soldiers who died in Israel’s wars.
• Reflecting on the good that others have done for us is a positive mitzvah. A Jew is obligated to sensitize himself to recognize even the slightest benefit conferred upon him, and certainly the ultimate price paid by fallen solidiers.
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