Thursday, May 08, 2008

Between Two Worlds

(This was written over the course of the day yesterday, Yom HaZikaron. However, by the time I was told to post it, "Posting Hours" had ended. So here it is....)

Today we observe Yom HaZikaron.

I know today is the day we remember the fallen chayalim and victims of terror hy'd. I know that Yom HaZikaron is usually the 4th of Iyar, followed by Yom Ha'Atzmaut on the 5th, but because of Shabbos Yom Ha'Atzmaut was moved to Thursday and so Yom HaZikaron is observed today.

What's the big deal? Ask most of my high school classmates what today is, and what it means. These days are usually not observed in the BY/Yeshiva school system. Sometimes the days are actually protested against. On Yom Hashoa there is a speech at my old high school - why the day is specifically NOT to be observed. (Tisha B'Av is used as a day of remembrance for all Jews instead)

In my elementary school however, we DID observe all of these days, with memorial services, sirens, and celebrations. We lit candles on Yom HaShoa, read the poem "I Never Saw Another Butterfly", and listened to Survivors tell their stories. We said tefilot for chayalim and Israel on Yom HaZikaron, and we wore Blue & White on Yom Ha'Atzmaut. In each classroom we had an Israeli flag in addition to the American Flag. Every morning we sang HaTikva in addition to the Pledge of Allegiance.

TheYeshivaWorld posted a letter to the editor today. "Why Charedim Don't Stand During the Siren"
"We live each day with Emunah and Bitachon. Each one of us knows quite well the concepts of G’zar Din and S’char v’Onesh. It is certainly difficult to accept Hashem’s decrees.No one claims to have the answers of the specifics and the severity. But one thing we do know - the Ribbono Shel Olam did it for a reason only He knows - and we accept His judgement.

Sadly, the Chilonim don’t walk around with such an attitude, and therefore have questions.They need to take a minute each year to think.We as Chareidim think about Hashem’s ways every day of the year.The mechanic’s friends won’t celebrate with him - it lowers their standards. The Chareidim don’t stand during the siren - it minimizes their Emunah and Bitachon. "
The comments on this letter are split. Some comments disagree with the author and discuss how these days are the same as observing a Yarzheit, etc. and some comments agree with the author's view.

Growing up in two schools with very different outlooks on this issue has left me a little confused. On one hand i do feel its important to observe/celebrate these occasions, but with the "yeshivish" world so against anything "Tzioni" (including Bamba) I feel that by caring, i'm doing something "wrong". The Gush Katif/Shomron situation was similar. Nothing was mentioned in the BY high schools or seminaries, while the "Tzioni" schools shared the news and kept their students updated. We were in Israel and didn't even have a clue about what was going on!

I remember finding a poster when I was in seminary that said "Yehudim Lo Migarshim Yehudim". I took it to my Aim HaBayit and asked her what "migrashim" meant. She looked at the poster and then she looked at me and she said "we stay out of this, throw that away". (she attempted to take it from me, but i left quickly. It hung on the wall of my room for the rest of the year).

Unfortunately for her, we had Israeli madrichot who answered my question with pleasure, and an explanation - not to mention relatives living in Gush Katif. (I'm proud to say that the following year, my brother and his friends made numerous trips to the Shomron area, specifically to resettle Chomeish, and camped out until the police had to drag them away. Because they were American they were put onto buses and let off in the middle of nowhere, far from the Shomron.)

On Yom Ha'Atzmaut the seminary girls were "banned" from attending any celebrations. How many of these same families (staff included) would attend fireworks displays on July 4th, the American Independence Day??

What is Anti-Frum about sticking up for your brothers and sisters? What is Anti-Frum about taking a moment out of your day to pause and give Hakaras Hatov to your siblings that fight in the army for you, for your land?? Do you realize what a privilege it is to daven at the Kosel as often as you'd like? Without "the State of Israel" you'd have a lot more problems getting a chance to pray there, or at any of the holy sites (not to mention those BY seminaries)!!

I now work at a school similar to my own elementary school. This afternoon we had a siren and a mome

nt of silence, and the principal gave an explanation to the students. Even in the office, I stopped what I was doing. Oy vey! A kollel wife observing a moment of silence for something zionistic!? I changed my gchat status (you know you love them) to "moment of silence @ work" as this occurred, and one of my friends who grew up in the BY system messaged me "really? thats weird. why?"

Jews bashing other Jews is what it comes down to. How can we expect Moshiach to come when we're behaving like siblings who get their dessert taken away from them for fighting??

Tomorrow, the students and staff at the school I work in will be wearing Blue & White in honor of Yom Ha'Atzmaut. I will be joining them.


  1. You've got my vote! My mother is fond of saying that Jews really don't need to worry about non-Jewish anti-semites--we do such a good job of hating other Jews ourselves.

  2. profk - thats great!! (well, the quote not the issue :) )

  3. Why is it "Jews bashing Jews" not to stand for the siren? I think people should stand to remember those who fought and fell so we can live in Eretz Yisrael. However, not standing is not "bashing Jews;" it is a statement that this is 1)unimportant or b)against my beliefs.

  4. Anon -"Not standing" is not the "bashing" that I'm talking about. Everyone has the choice to stand or not. But to accuse those who do stand, who do celebrate, who do observe, of not having emunah, bitachon or belief in G-d, THAT's the bashing. I don't care if you stand or not, but don't think that you're better than the rest of them if you don't. Don't think that standing makes them less frum, less Jewish, less G-d fearing than you. The author of that letter on YW is part of the group of Jews who take the "holier than thou" attitude. "You stand for the siren? You pray for the State of Israel? You're not frum! You should depend on G-d for all of that!"

    Scraps - thanks, (i'm glad at least you and profk understood the point.)

  5. I related to this post *so* much. For me, it was more the disconnect between home and school that made things confusing - both my elementary school and high school didn't do anything to commemorate Yom HaShoah (although they didn't ignore it, just didn't go anything special), and for sure not Yom Hazikaron or Yom Haatzmaut. However, my parents did feel strongly that these were important days. Kind of made me confused :) (and I still sort of am).

    The worst for me was my experience in seminary, when on Yom Hazikaron, one of my teachers talked through the siren. I was so angry - just because you don't agree with it doesn't mean you have to disrespect it. (Not to mention we couldn't hear what she was saying anyway.) Bothered me a lot. No one else seemed to be, though, which bothered me even more!

    Seriously - great post. *applause*

  6. Much like the apple, I relate to this all too well.

    Growing up, my elementary school actually was a little conflicted on the subject. They essentially ignored it, but they would call us to the auditorium each year for an assembly that was always unclear, unexplained, and seemed to be mostly focused on bashing Theodore Herzl. They'd show a video, then send us back to class.

    Every year, my father would take us with him to our shul's other branch in a different neighborhood to Shacharis. We'd daven with the minyan there, though my father would tell us to skip the extra parts of pesukei d'zimrah, not to say the bracha when they said Hallel, and didn't seem all that interested in the krias haTorah. Afterwards there would be a speech from the Rav, followed by a nice breakfast; after we'd eaten, he'd take us back to school, just about in time for class. One year one (more 'yeshivish') Rebbe questioned me about it, and we debated through recess, if I recall correctly. At the very end, he noted that if I could "toe that fine line, it was fine" - a concession that was rather surprising, but pleasant on some level.

    In my last couple of years in the school, apparently enough people raised the issue that the school decided to change what they were doing. They put together a rather meaningful video, interviewing 4 former students who lived in Israel, including a cousin of mine who is Charedi. All spoke beautifully about what Israel means to them, and it was rather inspiring to see how each took something else from it - it didn't matter what their political or religious leanings were, they were able to find the good in whatever goes on.

    High school was a bit different; I never heard a word spoken against as far as I can remember, but there was no "pro" either. I think a few of us would walk silently into another room after Chazaras HaShatz, finish our own davening there, and nobody really said anything about it.

    In Israel, it was a lot more conflicted; some Rabbeim spoke out against, most emphasized that we shouldn't "waste a minute of learning" to stop for the siren [many of us walked outside for that minute instead], Yom Ha'atzmaut was discussed both halachically and hashkafically and usually in a negative fashion... but they brought in speakers about both, they had us go to the Moshav's ceremony for the fallen, they had their own party. (There was actually a VERY awkward moment when a prominent speaker got fed up with an obnoxious question about why he says Hallel and walked out. This resulted in proper criticism by the Rabbeim about knowing when to keep your mouth shut even when you disagree, IIRC.)

    Woah. This is quite long and rambling. But I loved the post, and it brought back lots of thoughts/memories. :)

  7. I remember screaming at everyone to protest the girush.. they looked at me like I was a lunatic...

    I asked the yeshivish / chareidi crowd, why the digging up of 38? graves, destruction of 60 shull's meant nothing to do them...

    Why shas can scream about chilul shabbos, but the fact that the army was mechalel shabbos didnt mean nothing to them.

    I observe a moment of silence on yom hazikaron and yom hashoa although I dont recognize yom hashoa because the lubavitvher rebbe said that nissan is not a proper month to mourn over this.

    I dont think you can excuse talking through the yom hazikaron siren, its just done to mourn and remember those killed al kidush hashem.. and especially nowdays when it commemorates both soldiers and those killed in terror attacks.

  8. Its just like saying God in the pledge of legience- people like to make bigger deals out of things then they are. Its all for political attention in my view- whats it hurt to stand for two minutes.

  9. I never experienced any conflict here because my elementary school, high school, and Israel school were all zionistic and went all out on yom hazikaron and yom ha'atzmaut. But I know the issue exists and it makes me upset.

    However, not standing is not "bashing Jews;" it is a statement that this is 1)unimportant or b)against my beliefs.

    True, as Stam said, that's not the bashing Jews part, but when the rest of your country is in mourning over those who lost their lives fighting for their country, it's very hurtful not to respect that. By not standing, it's actively saying, as you pointed out, "this is unimportant" or "this is against my beliefs." Why does this even have to be a religious issue? It's a national issue. Even if you don't believe in the Israeli government, Israeli soldiers were fighting both for their country and for the Jewish nation. Perhaps in your own home, don't stand up, but if you're in public, it's making a statement that is extremely hurtful and divisive. It isn't a sin to stand in silence for a minute and think about your brethren who have fallen, even if it's not on the day which you feel is the appropriate one to be remembering them.

    As for Yom Ha'atzmaut, no one is forcing anyone to say Hallel, but to ban people from celebrating, to look down on them for doing so? Religious issues aside, what is so wrong about allowing people to celebrate the fact that the Jews were able to finally have a place in which to freely practice Judaism?

    Aaaaanyway, sorry if this was really rambly. Apparently I feel more strongly on this issue than I thought I did. :P

  10. We are in the midst of a dumbing down generation, where Jewish education is superficial, issues are quickly or not at all discussed, and history of past leaders is rewritten.

  11. While not standing might not be "bashing", it certainly is disrespectful and a chilul hashem.

    What people do in their own homes is between them and God. What people do b'farhesia affects everyone around them (sometimes with far-reaching consequences).

    When the country is standing in mourning/remembering, the least one can do is stand respectfully for all of 60-120 SECONDS.

    There are creative sollutions for Jews who don't accept Yom HaZikarona but want to be respectful. Many open a Sefer Tehillim and read a few p'rakim.

    When Jews blatantly ignore the siren, they are "poresh min hatzibur". Perhaps they consider themselves to be the tzibur -- in some ways they would be correct, though numerically they are a small minority. However, being representatives of the tzibur would imbue them with an even greater responsibility to those around them.

    Whichever way you look at it, we are responsible for ALL of Am Yisrael.

    Our goals should be to behave in a way that will be m'karev our fellow Jews and be a kiddush hashem.

    This year, davka on Yom HaShoah, I found myself standing next to two very hiloni Israelis. Perhaps it was my imagination, but I saw initial surprise, followed by respect, when I stepped out of my car to stand. I am dati-leumi, but to many hilonim, all religious people (especially women), look alike.

    What one religious Jews does reflects on all religious Jews.

    Perhaps you would be interested in my post about Yom HaZikaron:
    Yom HaZikaron

  12. Ezzie, I wonder if the program at your elementary school had something to do with the Federation dollars they were receiving...