Daily Israel Report

Hareidim Warned: 'Don't Ignore Siren, Media will Demonize Us'

Hareidim should stand silent during Memorial Day siren even though it is a 'non-Jewish' remembrance custom, argues hassidic paper.
By Chaim Lev, Ari Yashar
First Publish: 5/5/2014, 8:21 AM

Hareidi leaders in Bnei Brak memorial ceremony.
Hareidi leaders in Bnei Brak memorial ceremony.
Flash 90

The editorial staff of the hareidi newspaper Hamodia on Sunday called on its readers to stand silent for the Memorial Day siren commemorating Israel's fallen soldiers and terror victims, "and not to play into the hands of the media."

The hareidi community has frequently borne the brunt of media scrutiny on Memorial Day and Holocaust Memorial Day, with photographs of hareidim not standing for the sirens being a recurring phenomenon. Last Monday, on Holocaust Memorial Day, Walla! reported on hareidim holding a barbecue even while it ignored an adjacent soccer game by secular Israelis. 

Hareidim have often claimed that walking during the siren's wail is not meant as disrespect for the dead, but simply reflects the fact that the use of sirens for memorializing the departed is not a "Jewish custom". But for many other Israelis the issue is one of common decency, and ignoring national memorials in such a way is seen as insensitive. Others also point out that many hareidim do not mark the commemorations at all - even through other "more Jewish" practices.

According to the article on Sunday, "there's no secret that commemorating the dead and working to elevate their souls through the way of the Torah and the tradition include acts like: studying Mishna (Oral Law), saying passages from the Psalms, lighting a candle, praying and saying Kaddish (the mourner's prayer)."

"It also isn't a secret that according to our world view, the ceremonies of the world's nations aren't a model for imitation or truth - but despite that, hareidi Jews should not keep walking on city streets at the time of the siren," added the article.

The editorial staff specifically called on its readers to stand for the siren so as not to "help those who want to cause a desecration of G-d's name," arguing that the media is prone to misrepresent hareidim by showing them not standing for the siren, even while it does not showing them studying Mishna or reciting Psalms for the deceased.

The media "also doesn't explain what are the original customs of Israel to commemorate the memory of those who passed," continued the article. "Therefore, the generally perceived picture, also for bereaved family members, is that hareidim desecrate the memory of the fallen."

"We must honor the fallen"

According to Hamodia's editorial staff, "the opposite is true: we must honor and commemorate the memory of the fallen, and support and honor those whose worlds were destroyed."

"Therefore, even those who are careful to avoid imitating the customs of the non-Jews should show respect and stay at home at the time of the siren, and those out of their home at the time of the siren, on a city street, should not keep walking," declared the article.

The hassidic paper went on to criticize those who ignore the siren, saying "the hostile media loves to emphasize these marginal groups, so as to slander as hareidim in Israel."

Instead of opposing the media, the article calls on readers to avoid the issue by honoring the siren and not antagonizing the general public against the hareidi sector, saying that even if the claims of those who do not stop for the siren are correct, their actions are not.