Outmaneuvered by Dossim

There’s an organization called “Dossim” in Israel that has been working to counter the anti-charedi bias of Israel’s secular media for over a year. It is how I first met Tzippy Yarom, who did the first-draft translation of my earlier post about Yom HaZikaron-related incitement.

A group from Dossim assembled last night in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park, which is where the media usually go to capture their annual photographs of those Charedim who do not stand during the siren. When media arrived, they found the group had lit memorial candles and was reciting Tehillim on behalf of the IDF’s fallen soldiers, before and during the siren.

They made the point that the vast majority of charedim do indeed stand during the siren, and that we must remember something else — to call for the end of incitement.

[Hat Tip: Ellen Solomon]

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36 Responses

  1. Jonathan says:

    You talk a lot about anti-charedi “incitement.” Just so we’re clear, are you actually accusing the non-charedi media of persuading others to commit a crime, which is the definition of incitement? If so, what crime are they encouraging? And has anyone acted on it?

    [First answer: consult a dictionary. You’d have a point, if you were right. Instead you have demonstrated an inadequate grasp of the English language, as the word and the crime are two different things. This is why I don’t like comments from behind a moniker: in this case, it enabled you to make a remark both condescending and imbecile.

    Second, fomenting hatred of charedim does lead directly to illegal activity. For example, the recent survey of secular Israelis showed that 82% are willing to hire charedim — which means that 18% would engage in religious discrimination. I’m no expert in Israeli law, but in the US that’s illegal. — YM]

  2. Joe Hill says:

    No one has an obligation to stand during the siren and if one chooses to not do so there is no basis to vilify him.

  3. Pini says:

    This reminds me of the story of Rabbi Saul Lieberman that I heard in yeshiva. R. Lieberman was asked by a priest whether he would save him on Shabbat. R, Lieberman said he would. The priest who was quite knowlegeable asked R. Lieberman whether he said that out of humantiarian considerations or mipnei darkei shalom. R. Lieberman said from humanitarian considerations. When the priest left R. Lieberman said: “I answered that way Mipnei Darkei Shalom.”

  4. Tal Benschar says:


    The word “incitement” in Israeli political discourse is used far more broadly than its technical legal meaning. Any harsh words that someone does not like can be labelled “incitement.”

    [Tal, while “incitement” isn’t used as commonly in the US, the English-language definition is itself “far more broad than its technical legal meaning.” Amnon Levi and Dossim both independently used Hasatah, incitement, to describe the way secular journalists treat the charedim on this issue. –YM]

  5. lacosta says:

    if it was net yet cited,

    here is a Bnai Braq haredi commemoration—


  6. Harry Maryles says:

    While this is a lot better than having a fun barbecue in a park on this day (as some very misguided Charedi youth have done in the past) – it still thumbs its nose at Israel by rejecting the way Israel has established its observance (by a moment of silence while sirens blast). They are in effect saying that we will honor the dead, but not in the way that the Zionist Reshaim do – that apes the Goyim. This also casts aspersions on all others that do observe a moment of silence as if to say, ‘we’re better than you’.

    I think a far better demonstration of Charedim honoring this day can be seen in this video: http://youtu.be/393EJ7MoUfU
    It shows many Rabbonim in the city of Bnei Brak doing what everyone else is doing – standing in silence and in solidarity with everyone else on this day.

    Just my opinion.

    [Sorry, Harry, but when it comes to it, fine. Let them be “thumbing their nose,” if that’s how you feel about it. Anyone who finds silent recitation of Tehillim at that time to be offensive needs his head examined, since he has buried the Emes beneath his own haughty attitude. –YM]

  7. Steve Brizel says:

    i think that either the scene described by R Harry in Bnei Brak and the recitation of Tehilim on Yom HaZikaron by Charedim LZcer Nismos those who lost their lives in defense of the State of Israel are both wonderful example of hakaras hatov and demonstrating a sense of being Noseh B’ol Chavero.

  8. Chochom b'mah nishtanah says:

    If anyone doubted that there is a bias against chareidim in even the centrist circles, they need wonder no longer. Look at Harry’s obnoxious post above. Emunah women of America would have no issue with the commemoration, and that is the emes.

  9. Harry Maryles says:

    I guess Hamodia’s rabbinic board is haughty too. From the Forward:

    The national Haredi newspaper Hamodia, which has a panel of influential rabbis determining policy, ran an editorial urging readers to observe the siren. The piece (not available online) urged Haredim to “honor and perpetuate” the memory of the fallen.

  10. Yaakov Menken says:

    Harry, I understand you didn’t notice that I mentioned HaModiah before the Forward did (and undoubtedly described what they said more accurately). But what I don’t understand is why you of all people seem to think saying Tehillim is not in line with what HaModiah said, or in line with the idea of the siren. Eli Julian submitted this comment to another post:

    According to Wikipedia the idea behind having a moment of silence is specifically to leave the content/significance of the moment neutral, so that each individual participant can invest it with whatever content would be most meaningful to them. Being that that is what it is all about, the moment of silence is only “non-jewish” if that is the way one decides to signify it, but it is specifically left open for us to invest with whatever Jewish content we want to fill it with, be it Tehilim, mishnayos etc.

    In other words, saying Tehillim is inherently completely appropriate during a moment of silence. It is not “thumbing noses” at anyone. Casting aspersions on people for simply doing the right thing is itself a hateful act. For a purportedly observant person to specifically look down his nose at people who have the audacity to silently say Tehillim during a moment of silence … well, I would have considered that unthinkable.

  11. c-l,c says:

    Commemorations of all sorts are acceptable,as long as…….

    ‘The Yom Hazikaron memorial ceremony for residents of the northern city of Tzefas was held last night amid a conflict between bereaved parents and the city’s chief rabbi, who opposed a performance by women singers during the ceremony.

    Rav Shmuel Eliyahu walked out of a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony last week when a dance group of girls got on the stage. Ahead of Remembrance Day for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers, he tried to prevent the performance of female singers during the ceremony. Last year, he accepted the presence of a woman performer in the ceremony.

    “I am not boycotting the ceremony,” Rav Eliyahu clarified in an appeal to Tzefas Mayor Ilan Shohat and representatives of the bereaved families. “No one wants this whole thing to explode. We are looking for a way for everyone to find their place.” ‘

  12. Chochom b'mah nishtanah says:


    Did those Rabbonim say that reciting Tehillim is inappropriate as you did?

    What the Hamodia suggested and what you said are not at all the same. R Y Menken’s assessment of your attitude is perhaps too generous.

  13. Harry Maryles says:

    I don’t see where you mentioned Hamodia in this post.

    But be that as it may, I do not criticize anyone for saying Tehilim. That misses my entire point. What I criticze is doing it when everyone else is doing something else. It sends a message.

    Now if after they stood silent they would have said Tehilim… I would have applauded it and pointed it out. As it is I applauded the Rabbonim in Bnei Brak who did not say Tehilim and stood still with the rest of the country. That sent a mesage too… a far more positive one in my view.

    Those Dossim knew they were going to be watched and wanted to send their dual message. One was that they do honor the dead (a good message) and one that the way the country does it is wrong (a bad message).

    Had they stood in silence it would not have been a ‘holier then thou’ moment. Do the Dossim think they are holier than the Rabbonim in Bnei Brak? Why didn’t they say Tehilim?

    I am saddened that you disparage my motives, Yaakov. This has nothing to do with looking down at anyone for saying Tehilim.

  14. Cvmay says:

    Kol Hakavod to this new group “Dossim”, they agree to be interviewed, answer respectfully & are advocates to understanding the Charedei life. It seems to me that the photographer was impressed with their behavior during the siren & wanted to document positive publicity.

    Standing silently, saying tehillim or just quiet introspection all show honor to the holy fallen soldiers.

  15. Moshe H says:

    Does anyone else wonder why seven or eight charedi men, out of hundreds of thousands, are worthy of note? As if this proves anything either way? This doesn’t look like a movement to me.

    [Consider the amount of attention paid to the fraction of Charedim who are out in public and do not stand at attention, and your question answers itself. –YM]

  16. L. Oberstein says:

    All I want to add to this discussion is this. If we act with sechel, we can accomplish so much more.These guys were smart, more power to them. Let’s get away from the pettiness of this argument, who is natier than whom. Unfortunaely, lmany Israelis lack what I would call social graces.,On the other hand, all the majority of non chareidim really want is for the chareidim to act like fellow Jews,not like antagonists. Very few want this fight. It is so stupid forsomeone with American mentality that people for ideological reasons won’t stand still for a moment. What’s their point, that it is OK to hurt someone’s feelings since they aren’t thinking like we think. This just wouldn’t happen in the USA. If I am at a Martin LUther King Memorial and they all hold hands and sing We Shall Overcome, I can make a point of standing between two people of hte same gender if that is my belief ,but I would certainly not ridicule the practice. I would also never ever sit down when the shul is reciting the tefilla for the Medina to show that I disaprove of that prayer. Doing that is the epitome of making a big deal out of everything and inciting eiva.

  17. purim joe says:

    For those of you who don’t actually live in Israel, let me explain something. During the moment of silence, one is supposed to stop activities, look down, and STAND IN SILENCE. You can make up a new tehillim-saying ritual, but that is not the right way to observe the national Israeli minute of silence. Just like in America, there is a proper way to fold the flag, salute the flag, etc., there is ONLY one correct way to follow this national, ceremonial remembrance of our fallen soldiers.
    There is nothing against halacha here – we are allowed to stand in silence. All that people want is one respectful minute of standing in silence. What a small request to honor all those who died for us!
    Worse, those who do not observe this ritual correctly cause a massive chillul Hashem, so according to most people’s understanding of Torah behavior, NOT following the ritual is a sin, and following it creates shalom and is a mitzva. I am happy to report that ALL the people I saw this year – including charedim – stopped what they were doing and stood still, looking down, for the few seconds the siren lasted. And that is nothing that needs to be applauded – it is basically what I learned in first grade:
    דרך ארץ קדמה לתורה
    May the memory of all the fallen soldiers – especially those who were not privileged to leave behind children – be remembered for their holy sacrifice. Their deaths protected the land of Israel and the Jewish people and because of them, we are here in this land on Yom HaAtzmaut today.

  18. lacosta says:

    r harry
    back off on this one … if the entire chareili community gathered to say tehillim at siren time , what could the hilonim claim–that these people are too jewish? that would prove the point of the latent anti-semitism…. it can’t be that you too want them to cut off peyot and do it the zionist way…..

  19. Yaakov Menken says:


    You brought up HaModiah as if it contradicted what Dossim had done, and as if I were unaware of what HaModiah said: “I guess Hamodia’s rabbinic board is haughty too.” To that, I pointed out to you that I am well aware of HaModiah’s statement and do not read it as you did. I did not disparage your motives, I disparaged your statements, because they were and remain both divisive and wrong.

    Now that you (and “Purim Joe”) have clarified your position, I have a question: what evidence do you have that they said Tehillim aloud during the siren? Minor problem, that, because the Dossim group stood silently during the siren. I had no idea what you were talking about, because you were assuming facts that are simply wrong. The video shows them saying Tehillim aloud — after the siren.

    Given your challenge, I went and confirmed this with the founder of Dossim himself, to be sure one of us had our facts straight. Even my reference to “silently say[ing] Tehillim during a moment of silence” only refers to one or two of them. From Shmuel Drilman: “בצפירה עמדו דומם, אחרי כן אמרו תהילים” [during the alarm they stood silent, afterwards they said Psalms]. And then he sent me the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-LRqYqbeDo

    “What I criticze is doing it when everyone else is doing something else.” — except they weren’t.

    “Now if after they stood silent they would have said Tehilim… I would have applauded it and pointed it out.” — except that’s what they did, and that’s what you didn’t.

    “Do the Dossim think they are holier than the Rabbonim in Bnei Brak?” — Clearly not. But does Harry Maryles think he is holier than Dossim?

    “This has nothing to do with looking down at anyone for saying Tehilim.” — I can agree with that. Given your oeuvre, I would say it has more to do with looking down at anyone who is Charedi.

  20. Yaacov Dovid says:

    This is a fine example of a creative and positive strategy.

  21. Frank says:

    L Oberstein, I respect you for your common sense and menschlichkeit. You follow in the derech of Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky, ztl (and many other Lithuanian and stam European gedolim), who had no patience for the hubris parading around these days in the name of “frumkeit”.

    Keep up the good work.

  22. Harry Maryles says:

    I stand corrected then. If they did stand quietly and said Tehilim afterwords, then I was wrong to criticize them. Kol HaKavod to them and to all the Charedim who made a public show of respect on this day in solidarity with the secular and Dati brothers.

  23. sara kahn says:

    Unfortunately, there are Yom HaAtzmaut episodes every year that create a massive chillul Hashem – by charedim.
    Last year, in Ramat Bet Shemesh B, people ripped flags off passing cars (and there’s basically only one driving route from RBS A to Bet Shemesh proper without going out to a highway, and it passes through the main drag of Rama B (check a map). Stealing, destroying property, etc. People sprayed graffiti all over buildings in RBS B (not just once or twice, I saw it at least 10 times) showing a black swastika = blue star of David.
    This year in Bnei Brak, people ripped down flags from lightposts. The media does NOT report all these episodes. I happen to be charedi, and I saw all this WITH MY OWN TWO EYES.
    Of course we must defend the masses of good Charedim, but we do need to educate the minority who have yet to learn alef-bais about being a frum Jew.

  24. Yaakov Menken says:

    Harry — I respect your correction. And to be completely honest, I said “before and during the siren.” I just meant silently, but I apologize if my choice of words misled you. My critique of your collected writings, though, remains. We all have to judge favorably, and in that light it’s important to mention that the efforts of Dossim and the Rabbis in Bnei Brak, plus the sharp words of Amnon Levi about the media coverage, seem to have led to a very significant change this year that we can all celebrate.

  25. sara kahn says:

    Can someone just explain one thing – you say that the charedim should stand silently and recite tehillim in their thoughts during the siren. OK, they can recite baseball stats in their thoughts for all anyone cares, as long as they don’t offend people by telling them that is what they were thinking about at the time.
    Yesterday, when I heard the siren, I thought about the young boys who died – some suffering particularly gruesome deaths, like Nachshon Wachsman – and I thought about the mothers who lost their sons, wives who lost their husbands, young children who lost their fathers forever, sisters who lost their sisters etc. etc. I thought about how grateful we all have to be for these sacrifices and how much love we should have for families that lost children to terror attacks. What exactly, is wrong with what I did? Are we sure saying tehillim is a better way for all charedim to experience this moment of reflection, which I think was intended to get people to think about what I was thinking about?
    As for the media coverage, I’d love to know why the media thinks it is OK to film and photograph charedim during the moment of silence, when you are supposed to stop working and stand silently with your head down…but the issue for us, as Charedi Jews, is to try to make sure our behavior leads to a kiddush Hashem. And I don’t think any readers here would disagree with that goal.

  26. c-l,c says:

    Rav Yaakov generally discouraged americans from making aliya.

    It would be detrimental to themselves and to society at large

    HE understood that most were seriously missing and lacked the fundamental bigger background connection of the Kulturkampf by proxy that even the most minor event must be placed contextually within.

    (Therefore,they would be very useful pawns)

    ‘O for those who are lost’

  27. c-l,c says:

    Sara kahn,

    while you are 100% correct,

    (a.welcome to Israel

    b.)this sounds remarkably similar to purim in some secular neighborhoods!

  28. Shua Cohen says:

    > “Rav Yaakov generally discouraged Americans from making aliya.”

    >> Huh? Rabbi Sholom Gold (formerly Mara D’Asra of the Young Israel of West Hempstead, NY) made aliyah in 1982. He recounts that before making aliyah he flew to Toronto to consult personally with HaGaon Rav Yaakov Kaminestsky zt”l (who was in Toronto at the time). Writes Rabbi Gold: “I wish to quote only one statement he made that is indelibly inscribed on my mind. ‘Reb Sholom, I hold that it is a mitzvah today as it always was to live in Eretz Yisroel and if I could I would go to the airport now, get on a plane and go to Eretz Yisroel, but I can’t….’ Trust me, his ‘I can’t’ was truly justified. The honesty, conviction, forcefulness and clarity of what R. Yaakov said mixed with his obvious pain was deeply moving.” So please, stop attributing to R. Yaakov any notion that he discouraged aliyah…it’s simply untrue.

  29. Yitzchak says:

    @ Sara
    There is definitely nothing wrong with what you were thinking, but saying tehillim, besides for the fact that it actually elevates the souls of those who were killed, it also makes a public stament saying that we, as chareidim care.
    The secular community sees that whenever something important happens to us we gather and say tehillim. (the recent atzeret for example)

  30. c-l,c says:

    I am quite aware of what Rabbi Sholom Gold believes he was told (It likely was a sagacious “b’derech she’adam rotzeh ley’lech..)
    I also heard first hand from others ,such as Rabbi Nisson Wolpin,who when they or their friends had expressed desire to make aliya,were advised or insinuated in the opposite direction

  31. c-l,c says:

    …and it was also more than advice,it was often public policy as well
    (Moreso,during the autopsy saga of the late ’60s ,the Moetzet of America threatened to FORBID wholesale making aliya)

  32. Cvmay says:

    How do u forbid WHOLESALE ALIYAH? was the Moetzes any stronger than then now? Would have a Kol Korai make a dent?
    Reb Yaakov zt”l advocated Aliyah for those who were determined. Check out all his family members & grandchildren who are living there.

    No one is whitewashing the difficulties or trials of settling in Eretz Yisroel.. Just stop rewriting history. As example Rav Gifter also advocated settling in Eretz Yisroel & always mourned not being there.

  33. Shua Cohen says:

    “I am quite aware of what Rabbi Sholom Gold believes he was told (It likely was a sagacious “b’derech she’adam rotzeh ley’lech..)”

    Wow…talk about an outsized display of cognitive dissonance.

  34. Rafael A. says:

    Yes Shua, you’re right…take a look in the mirror. Your hubris shines right through in every post.

  35. Shua Cohen says:

    To Rafael A.:

    I don’t usually respond to people who don’t reveal their full names, but I’m making an exception here because I perused some of your prior posts and, lo-and-behold, I find your positions to be intelligently and fairly expressed (and pretty much reflecting my own).

    So your current broadside against me leaves me perplexed. I say “broadside,” because when I take exception to a posted comment, I almost always quote the words that I am addressing in my critique. In this case, however, you have accused me of “hubris” in “EVERY” post? Either you have a phenomenal memory, or you took the time to re-read past posts of mine (which I find hardly likely). But, if either is true, I would ask that you kindly give an example (or two) as to what you find hubristic, so that I can at least put your accusation to self-examination, and perhaps elect to respond. Currently, however, you have not allowed me either of these options. Instead, you have taken an overly generalized pot-shot at me, which I don’t think is fair.

  36. Ellen Solomon says:

    Unfortunately, those who originally cried out that this moment of silence is “chukot hagoyim” were not advocating sensitivity way back when. So it is a real nechama that the reconciliation is coming from within the Charedi community, both as a public policy (to be sensitive to the well-meaning Israelis around them) and with some cleverness toward ending the media fest that has festered. BE”H I’m sure these voices will succeed.

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