The largest selling haredi newspaper in the hassidic sector, Hamodia, wrote in its editorial on Sunday that members of the haredi community should stand silently when the Remembrance Day siren sounds on Sunday evening and Monday morning.
Attention has been drawn in recent years to some members of the haredi community who continue with their activities during the traditional one and two minutes’ silence for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism, which is sounded in the evening and morning of Remembrance Day.
One explanation offered as to why haredim do not observe the moment of silence is that the community believes such a practice is not part of Jewish tradition and imitates non-Jewish customs, something prohibited by Jewish law.
The newspaper said that the focus of the secular media on haredi neighborhoods during the sounding of the siren was a form of deliberate incitement against the community.
Despite this, Hamodia’s editorial continued, the pictures and videos of haredim not standing still during the sounding of the siren deeply offends bereaved families and makes them believe that the ultra-Orthodox community is deliberately trying to hurt them.
“We must honor and perpetuate the memory of those who have fallen and encourage and raise up those whose worlds were destroyed,” read the editorial. “Therefore, anyone who wants to be stringent on the prohibition of imitating non-Jewish practice should be respectful and stay at home at the time of the siren, and those who are outside of their homes during the siren and in the streets should not continue to walk.”
Hamodia said that people who do not observe the moment of silence were a very small minority, and criticized their actions saying, “Even if their claims about non-Jewish practices are correct, it is not logical [not to stand still]. There is no reason at all, and it is in fact forbidden, to arouse the anger of the wider public against haredi Judaism when they are not familiar with our specific practices.”
Haredi journalist Yisroel Cohen, who writes for the popular news site Kikar Hashabbat noted that the newspaper’s stance was in no way ideological support for the Remembrance Day practices, but said that it nevertheless was a significant and important step for a mainstream haredi institution.
“This is the first time that a mainstream haredi newspaper, which expresses the opinion of the most senior hassidic leaders, has publicly called for greater respect for other sectors of society,” Cohen said.
He said that in recent years there has been an increasing trend within the haredi community to stand still during the sirens and that a majority of people now either stay at home or stand still and recite psalms, tractates of the Talmud, or the mourners prayer in deference to the national custom.
“The editorial from Hamodia is definitely a significant change in the perspective of the paper, that expressing sensitivity to broader Israeli society and preventing hatred towards the haredi community is an important goal,” Cohen said.