7

Most European chivalric orders, both historic and otherwise, as well as many other awards issued were cruciform (for different examples of styles, see the Pour le Mérite, the Iron Cross, and the Victoria Cross). All of the orders listed above, as well as many others, were open to Jews and many of them required display of the insignia by recipients.

Would wearing the cruciform insignia of orders be allowed for the recipients, from a halachic perspective?*§


*The issue that I could see would be the wearing of something shaped like a cross, as it is associated specifically with Christianity.

§I have heard that even the WWII issue of the Iron Cross may have been issued to individuals who were openly Jewish. This would introduce an additional problem, as the hakenkreuz (swastika) is associated with pagan and Hindu religious symbology.

  • I doubt that any Iron crosses were given to open Jews during wwii – Clint Eastwood Jan 15 '16 at 16:25
  • @ClintEastwood, there is a story I've heard about a soldier in the Finnish Army. Due to unfortunate circumstances, the Finns had to ally themselves with the Nazis, but they did not even pretend to support Nazi race policies. This particular soldier was openly Jewish and still managed to receive an EKII (Iron Cross 2 Class) – Noach MiFrankfurt Jan 15 '16 at 19:00
  • @user6591, I'm not sure that it's the same, due the origins of chivalric orders. – Noach MiFrankfurt Jan 15 '16 at 19:01
  • Not saying it's the same, but definitely very related. – user6591 Jan 15 '16 at 19:02
10

Most of the poskim deem the cross as something that Christians remember Jesus by, but not as an actual tool of worshipping. Therefore most agree that you are allowed to use it for pleasure, etc.

Thus say: Terumat HaDeshen in Ra'avyah's name, the Rama, the Ritva, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. This was taken from the following source (daily halacha based on Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's teachings).

Interestingly, Rabbi Yaakov Meir (the first Sephardic Chief Rabbi appointed under the British Mandate of Palestine), received such medals as the Order of the British Empire (and more), and more, and he had no problem wearing them:

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