Remembrance Day: Do Orthodox or Frum Jews care?
When it comes to remembering and commemorating the memory the dead, its hard to find people who do more than the Jews.
Yet on this upcoming Friday November 11 – Canadian Remembrance Day, I have a very hard time believing frum Jews will care about remembering.
Remembrance Day is the Canadian National Day of Remembrance in honour of the country’s fallen soldiers. For what it’s worth, it’s probably the saddest day on the calendar in Canada.
But will any Orthodox or Frum Jews be sad? Will they be commemorating the dead? Will they even care?
Call me out on this if you want, but this is just an observation of mine: Unless there is a Jewish element involved (and that includes Israel related events too), I find that the majority of most frum yidden not only don’t care, nor do they even acknowledge ANY secular holiday/important day INCLUDING the “harmless” ones like Remembrance Day, which have absolutely NO religious overtones or anti-Semitic elements.
We all know Jews have their own ways of commemorating things, and thus frown upon goyish customs like moments of silence. According to the Rambam and other great sources, we are not supposed to engage in things that the goyim do. For example, our dress is different. Our language is different. Our holidays and meaning behind them/observance of them is different. That my friends, is called chukas hagoyim.
So fine, don’t wear a poppy. If that’s too goyish for you, then G-d forbid you lower your holy madrega of dressing like gentiles.
But it’s the atmosphere and aura that emanates from frum yidden that screams “it’s a goyish thing so who cares” or “what day of commemoration? I’m too busy learning in the beis to care about this nareshkeit. News to me…”
But here’s what I think: Sure, the day has absolutely no element of yiddishkeit. It was completely created by goyim and it is typically observed. And yes, you have a CHOICE to commemorate it or not.
But even with that option that is a result of the those who paid the ultimate price. The fact that you have the CHOICE is a testament to the men and women that paid the ultimate price. (Thanks to my uncle for that one.)
Why should there be no acknowledgement of Remembrance Day? We’re no different than goyim when it comes to who the soldiers are fighting for… And let’s not forget the role Canadian forces played in World War II.
My point is, frum yidden DO have a measure of hakaras hatov to the Canadian soldiers and it’s I believe it’s a chilul hashem if we just ignore this appropriate opportunity to do so.
And I’m not talking about in-your-face displays of remembrance. All I hope is that frum Jews be respectful and not come off as apathetic towards something that has genuine and heartfelt meaning to the goyim.
This is not appeasement, this is being respectful.
And this is NOT like Halloween and other goyish-related/religiously charged/historical anti-Semitic related events. Observing a yahrtziet of fallen soldiers by wearing a poppy or acknowledging that the loss of life is sad is one thing – – – that is, there is no religious ideology involved. (That one comes from a good friend of mine. An edited piece, but nonetheless meaningful)
UPDATE FROM 2012: This also makes me wonder about what happens (if anything) at religious schools. It’s come to my attention this year via work (a news station) that some schools have decided or given their students the decision to opt out of Remembrance Day ceremonies. Now besides this being overall offensive (Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said it best in a tweet : ” I think its offensive. They don’t opt out of the freedoms secured by our war dead.”), it’s absolutely no excuse for this to be coming out of a public school. But for some reason, it wouldn’t shock me if there was nothing at all at some very religious schools here in Toronto. I don’t know… It just seems like a smack to the face.
But let me say this, I don’t see the harm in us participating in remembrance day. We are obligated to pray for the welfare of our country and its leadership. I think it would be good to show that we also remember on remembrance day – as a kiddush Hashem. All Jews in Canada have a measure of hakaras hatov to the soldiers & it would be a chilul hashem to not deliver it at this appropriate time.