Politicizing Kaddish: A Red Line No One Should Cross

The Jewish world was shocked by fringe groups who said Kaddish and Yizkor for Hamas terrorists that were killed on the Gaza border due to Hamas’s reckless and murderous behavior. The outrage was immense. I would like to share with the organizers, and with those who are rightly outraged, an email I got not long ago. It read as follows:

“Hans Kratz (born Elchanan Rosenbaum) died last night… would
you mind reciting the mourner’s kaddish for him? It was the most
important request he made of me, it was very important to him. I am asking Jews I know around the world to pray this with me — for him — when and if they could.”

This simple, yet moving email puts so much about this conversation in perspective. Kaddish is a prayer that was meant to be an intimate memorial to those who died. It was to be said by those closest to the person who passed away. It was not infrequent for people who had only one child would name that child “Kaddish”. This is where people like the former chairman of the Knesset Kaddish Luz got their name. I ask anyone who reads this article to please say Kaddish for Hans Kratz who left no one to say Kaddish for him.

I also ask all to consider the sacred nature of Kaddish. Those killed in Gaza were terrorists. Even if they were not — which they were — turning Kaddish into a cheap political toy should be off limits. No one would turn a cemetery into a political battleground — unless they were a Nazi or a white-supremacist. No one would turn a hospital into a military base unless they are the most vicious and reckless abusers of human rights. No one should turn Kaddish into a political weapon. No one.

The moral crime of supporting the terrorists of Gaza was bad enough. There is no need to turn what many consider their most sacred prayer into a politically expedient tool.


About the Author
The writer is an eleventh-generation rabbi, teacher, and author. He has written Sacred Days on the Jewish Holidays, Poupko on the Parsha, and hundreds of articles published in five languages. He is the president of EITAN--The American Israeli Jewish Network
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