May 2, 2006

Yom Hazikaron with the haredim

It was reported in yesterday's news that there would be a ceremony by the "Haredi" public for commemorating those in their communities who were killed in terror attacks. In the J-Blogosphere and in the general media, there have been a number of attacks on this ceremony. The attackers are upset that Haredim are only memorializing their own victims, as of to say they are better and more worthy than others.

I would like to take this opportunity to comment on this issue, which I think is actually just an opportunity for some people to attack haredim, which they do at every opportunity. Do not get me wrong, it is fine to criticize (and I do that as well), but somtimes one needs to be aware of what they are criticizing, and do they just not like Haredim and look for everything wrong with them, or is something really wrong and worthy of criticism.

Now, onto the rant.

First off, from what I understood the event under discussion was not really a Haredi event, rather a memorial ceremony for the general religious public with a religious tone. The speakers (I did not receive a first hand account of what happened, just heard about some of the proceedings) were not Haredi Rabbonim, rather Rabbonim who are well known and well respected in the National Religious community, such as Rav Motti Elon and Rabbi Riskin. So right away, that should take the criticism off the Haredi crowd and put it on the general religious public for holding a ceremony commemorating "their own".

But for arguments sake, what if it were a Haredi event? Would they be worthy of criticism if it was a Haredi event?

Two points I would make, if that were true:

1. If the armored corps held a special memorial remembering the fallen among the armored corp soldiers, would you criticize them for ignoring everybody else? If the families of victims of bus bombs had their own memorial for these fallen victims, would you criticize them for ignoring everybody else? If the air force held a special memorial service for its fallen, would you criticize? if a specific hesder yeshiva held a memorial for the fallen alumni of its ranks, would you criticize?What is wrong with a group of people having their own ceremony to remember those close to them? I think it is completely natural. All over Israel today you will find small ceremonies, each commemorating the fallen of its own community. Maybe the Haredim could do more in addition to that, such as also participate in the general commemoration but for that see my next point.

2. Until now you/me/we/everybody criticized the Haredim for completely ignoring the day. Now they are starting to recognize it and you still criticize them. Change is slow. They cannot change their ways overnight. Step by step. Be happy that there is a metamorphasis going on, which is obvious, and call for more positive steps, rather than criticizing the first baby steps they have taken. This is big. For a community that until now has completely rejected any recognition of secular state's observances and special days, they are finally beginning to. Don't criticize these first steps. Accept them as the beginning of change and be aware that people cannot change overnight. Be happy they are starting to accept things. See the positive in it. Call for more, but see the positive.


  1. rafi, i do agree with you second point and we will have to wait and see that things really will develop and progress. as far as your first thought, though, it seems (at least the media twist) is that it was to the exclusion of all others. finally, although recently yom hazikaron is in memory of terror victims as well, the ikar is for fallen soldiers. if the haredi community would have a ceremony for fallen haredi soldiers, i think that would "recognize" both the secular state's day as well as the value in serving the defense of that same state.

  2. Mr. Cubs - could be. But small memorial ceremonies are always specific. It could be exclusionary by default, but not necessarily by intent..

    Anyway, the Cubs just lost 8-0 and the season is already getting tiresome..

  3. I think one of the complaints that are ignored by the religious community is the arrogance and lack of hakoras hatov. Here you have thousands of soldiers who have died defending israel. They have perished defending everyone including the religious. Hundreds of thousands have sacrificed their time and energy and all that goes with army service. Not only do the religious community by and large not searve in the army or volunteer in other fashions but they do not have gratitude or recognise the humanity of these people risking and sacrificing on their behalf. A private ceremony not on yom hazikaron is different then one on yom hazikaron. A ceremony on Yom hazikaron that segments out all but the religious is a slap on the face for all the other people's sacrifice. This is the complaint: where is the humanity of the greater religious movement. Where is the ben adam lchavero which is spoken of on yom kippur. Or is it all rhetoric for a cult type mindset wherein only members of the "group" are human. And ben adam lchavero and hakaros hatov only apply with that group.

  4. Dan - you are way off. The religious community is the most dedicated of all groups in the army. I do nto remember the numbers offhand, and am too tired to go look them up right now, but the religious community makes up a majority of all elite units in the army. The religious soldiers are the most dedicated and committed of any group in Israel.

    You might be referring to the Haredi public, rather than the religious public. Then you might have a good point. yes, they can do better and I agree with much of what you say (though I do not agree that they look at the secular as not human).
    But the ceremony under discussion was not a haredi ceremony. it was a general religious ceremony. They were not being exclusionary, rather holding a ceremony remembering their own, in addition to the general ceremonies they participate in.
    An added benefit of this ceremony was that the Haredi public (or some of them at least) felt more comfortable takign part in it, than they would have if it was a regular secular ceremony.
    They are slowly integrating into general society. All the signs point to it. It is a slow process, and this is one small baby step in the process. they have a long way to go, but I see it as progress. Progress not just in participating, which is minimal human decency, but progress in the sense that they are really starting to feel as being part of the same society and we are all connected to each other.
    I have written a number of posts on this phenomena, and I relally think this is another manifestation of this progression of joining general israeli society.

  5. Rafi,

    I especially mean the haredi public. However, notwithstanding the exemplary and dedicated service of the religious soldiers who comprise an overweight portion of the highly regarded combat troops, as a percentage of the religious public only a minority actually searve. Of course I include women in this number as irreligious women are required to serve or volunteer in other fashions. But again, I do not discount the minority who have risen above the rest.
    And,unfortunately,as the haredi are the most vocal and least grateful it is easiest to use them as the prime and clear example of this lack of gratitude and disgust towards their fellow man.

  6. ignoring the Haredim for a minute, in regards to the general religious public (mostly national religious), almost all of the them serve in the army. Guys and girls. I would not call them a minority - they are integrated into general society completely and are part of the Israeli public. They server in nearly 100% capacity.
    The Haredim who serve (and there are many) are clearly a minority. I can understand why you perceive them the way you do, and I cannot defend them adequately, so i will not try. However, i do see improvement. more and more are getting themselves drafted. more and more are joining the workforce. More and more are integrating. Again, the change is slow, and maybe we wish it could go faster, but it is happening. As they integrate more, they drop their previous misconceptions (as do the general public drop the miconceptions about the Haredim).


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