Two organizations are partnering to promote the reading of chapters of the Book of Psalms in memory of fallen IDF soldiers and victims of terrorism for the upcoming Remembrance Day in an initiative called: “For Every Victim there is a Chapter.”
Now in its seventh year, the initiative’s founders have emphasized what they say is the extra importance of the program this year following a year of severe societal tensions between the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community and the general public due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Gesher organization for societal cohesion and the Dossim initiative, together with the Tehillim Yahad website, have created a platform for the public to read a chapter of Tehillim dedicated specifically to a victim of hostile actions against soldiers and civilians in the 73 years since the establishment of the State of Israel.
The societal divisions that have been exposed this year by the COVID-19 crisis made the project even more important, Gesher Director Ilan Geal-Dor said.
“The project was created out of a desire and a need to show to the entire Jewish people that the haredi sector is not that small group of people who walk during the siren on Remembrance Day or ignores the Health Ministry regulations, but rather a large and broad [sector] that feels the pain of the nation and wants to contribute to the memorialization and to raise up the souls of fallen IDF soldiers,” he said.
Anyone wishing to participate in the initiative can go to the website of “For Every Victim there is a Chapter,” where there are pages dedicated to individual fallen soldiers or victims of terrorism.
Immediately below the victim’s name appears a link to a webpage on the Defense Ministry’s website that tells the life story of the individual.
The text of a chapter of Tehillim appears further down the page, with buttons available to indicate when it has been completed, a reminder to read the Psalm later and to share the project on WhatsApp.
Participants can also leave good wishes for the families of the victims.
“I see more and more haredim who want to be part of Remembrance Day and who think it’s part of their lives as well,” Geal-Dor said.
“People always used to go and try and show that the haredim don’t stand in silence for the siren, and specifically, this year we wanted to show how Remembrance Day connects us and to do things together and find the things that unite us,” he said. “It is another small thing we can do to decrease the tensions and find points of connection between the haredim and the secular.”
According to Akiva Weisfeld, one of the founders of the initiative, reciting Tehillim is the classic Jewish way to commemorate and memorialize the deceased, and it is believed to elevate the soul of those in whose name the Psalms are read.
“Religious Jews don’t believe so much in flowers and sirens as the way to remember the dead,” he said. “Reciting Tehillim is what we think is the best way to memorialize them.”
“Before this initiative, I didn’t think there was an orderly or organized way for remembering fallen soldiers within the haredi community,” said Weisfeld, a Belzer hassid. “I wanted to show that haredim do care about fallen soldiers, including classic haredim who look like me.”