Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Yom HaShoah 5769

(Hat Tip for the Video: Jameel)

After so many years in Israel, כן ירבו, I still am profoundly moved when the sirens sound on Yom HaShoah and Yom haZikkaron. There is something overwhelmingly profound in its understatement. The moment is ineffable in the way wherein the individual unites with his own thoughts, and simultaneously melds into Jewish collective consciousness and memory; past, present and future.

Of course, as is well known (and over emphasized), Israeli Haredim are known to refuse to stand at attention when the siren goes off. Their argument is that such behaviour is inappropriate since it constitutes a willful act of imitating the gentiles, it constitutes a violation of the Torah's injunction against 'Walking in the Ways of the Gentiles' (חוקות עכו"ם). [Lev. 18, 3 and Rambam, Hil. AKuM 11, 1-4]. The argument, in my informed opinion, is extremely specious.

Yet, it is not of that I wish to write. Over the past few years, there has been an interesting shift among some Haredim. First, in order not to be provocative, many try not to be outside when the siren sounds. More significantly, the practice has developed to stand and recite Psalms while the siren blasts. I suspect that this started as a way of not ascribing significance to the siren, per se. However, as time goes on, I believe that this is the first step toward the integration, the Judaization, of the siren and its transformation into an ongoing Jewish ritual.

A tragic unity obtained among Jews in the death pits and in the creamatoria. I believe there will be unity also in the way in which they will be remembered.


Aviad said...

I think that the sounding of the siren is one of the most Jewish customs that the Israeli state has initiated. It is a modern Shofar. There is no need to Judaize it. The haredi halakhic "reasoning", is as usual ridiculous. .

Nachum said...

Incredibly moving. Thanks for that.

Something just occurred to me: If it's Chukkat HaGoy...can you name one non-Jewish nation that does this? I honestly can't think of anyone else who stands still during a siren. Moments of silence, sure, but that's different, and in any case isn't so non-Jewish anyway.

Anonymous said...

This year I recited megillat eichah, as much of it as I could remember, during the siren.