Photo Credit: Natan Epstein
Ari Fuld and IDF special forces soldier (and great-grandson of the Satmar Rebbe) Chaim Meisels.

The Jews of Lawrence-Cedarhurst NY are no strangers when it comes to IDF support. There are tens of “Lone soldiers” who are currently serving in the IDF from that area. That is why it was no surprise that the Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst made a very generous donation and asked Standing Together to help a specific unit in which one of their congregants has a nephew serving.

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We made contact with the officer of the elite Egoz unit and after a month of preparations we scheduled a day to meet them on base and give them the gear that was sponsored by YILC.

As we drove on to the base it was hard not to notice the smiles on the soldiers’ faces.

The Egoz unit is a “Sayeret”(Elite) unit and they have now been on base for over 3 weeks in an intense training course. Their phones have been confiscated and I cannot tell you details of their training regimen, but I can tell you that they have been completely cut off from the outside world and they are working hard, VERY HARD!

As we unloaded the water packs, dry-fit clothing, Leatherman utility tools and personalized gear backpacks to give out to the soldiers, we could hear the bursting excitement from the soldiers.

“Oh my God! WOW! Where is this from? Are you serious?! YEEESSHHH! (‘Yeah baby’ in Hebrew).”

The truth is, if the day would have ended right there, it would have been a perfect day, but nothing prepared me for what happened next!

I asked the guys if there is someone who speaks English as we are looking for someone to send a video message back to the Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst. They all immediately pointed to a specific Kipah wearing soldier and as I walked over to introduce myself he stood up to shake my hand and say thank you.

I have met many Lone soldiers and the first thing any respectable Jew does is play Jewish geography, so I asked him where he is from.

When he answered Borough Park, I felt my face shift in wonder as I said, “Did you say Borough Park?!”

He gently smiled and repeated it again, Borough Park.

The prominent Ultra-Orthodox community in Borough Park, NY does not have many kids drafting into the IDF, so my curiosity was at its apex.

I asked the soldier for his name and when he responded, Chaim Meisels, my knees buckled.

Chaim Meisels is no ordinary Lone soldier. Chaim Meisels is the great-grandson of the Satmar Rebbe!

(I will pause here a second for those of you who just fell off your chair or spilled your drink.)

You read correctly, Chaim Meisels is the great-grandson of the Berach Moshe, better known as the Satmar Rebbe.

What is he doing in Sayeret Egoz?

I asked the question and before I knew it, I was in a deep discussion with this very special Lone soldier.

One can understand if Chaim would have been angry and bitter towards Satmar as they completely shut him out since he left, but that is simply not the case.

As much as I tried not to speak about politics and hashkafa, it is a little difficult when speaking to the Satmar Rebbe’s great-grandson who happens to also be wearing an IDF uniform and serving in one of the IDF’s most elite units.

No matter how many times I asked about his family and Satmar, Chaim did not have a single negative word to say about anyone.

“I love my parents dearly and have only love and respect for them.” That is the way Chaim answered my question about his family’s reaction to his decision to join the IDF.

It’s not that I was looking for something negative to report, I just wanted to understand the hardships Chaim had to go to to get to where he is now. No matter how many questions I asked, Chaim had only positive things to say.

I cannot imagine the amount of personal strength and courage needed to do what Chaim did and I do not really know how the Satmar community is reacting. What I do know is that while supplying Chaim and his unit with gear, I felt a tremendous feeling of unity.

A young IDF soldier by the name of Chaim Meisels taught me, in his modest and Menshlechkite way, that a love for Am Yisrael and a positive attitude is more powerful than anything else.

Video by Natan Epstein

About Standing Together

Standing Together was started by two loving parents of several IDF soldiers. Twenty year ago, David Landau of Efrat, went to pray at Rachel’s tomb in Bethlehem. As he arrived, he saw IDF soldiers guarding the site to make sure people who came to pray are protected and safe.

“I saw the concern on the soldiers’ faces”, explains David Landau, “they were more concerned for our safety than they were for their own”. This is how David recalls the events of that day that gave fruit to Standing Together.

“I remember walking up to the soldiers in Rachel’s tomb to thank them for protecting us. I spoke to them for several minutes and I clearly heard in their voice how worried and concerned they were for our safety. I was not content with just a ‘thank you’, so I left Rachel’s Tomb, found the nearest Pizza joint and bought a pie for the soldiers.

When I returned to Bethlehem to give the Pizza to the soldiers, an expression of shock came over their faces and they turned to me and asked, “what is this for?”.

I told them I wanted to thank them and show my appreciation for their service and for keeping us safe. Their shocked expression turned to a smile as they responded in a way I will never forget, “People have been walking in here all day and you are the first to say thank you. It’s not that we need it, because we are just doing our job, but it’s nice to know that people appreciate our service.”

It was at that point that David and Sarah Landau decided they were going to make it their goal to show IDF soldiers just how much they are appreciated by people around the world. Twenty years later, Standing Together has been supporting IDF soldiers with whatever they need and wherever they might be.

During the recent Gaza war in the Summer of 2015, Standing Together drover across the Southern border of Israel supplying soldiers with everything from underwear and water packs to food and gear.

Over the Winter months Standing Together has given out thousands of winter gear packs to soldiers who were serving on the Northern front. These packs included operational gloves, fleece waterproof jackets, thermal clothing and more. Over 4,000 Mishloach manot were distributed over Purim and in conjunction with the IDF, Standing Together sent 1,000 packages to families of IDF soldiers who are in need of financial assistance just in time for Pesach.

This Summer…

The summer months have hit Israel hard this year. Temperatures have already reached over the 100 degree mark and soldiers do not have the luxury to take a break.

Standing Together’s summer IDF campaign is one of their most popular campaigns. With the help of private donations, we visit IDF bases across Israel and give the soldiers a reason to smile. Along with our ice cream Sundays and cold drinks, we supply soldiers with insulated water packs, dry-fit operational apparel, personalized gear bags and other equipment help make soldier’s lives and service both easier and more effective.

Come visit the Standing Together Facebook and Twitter pages where you can find updates on Israel, IDF stories and pictures.

Standing Together is non-profit organization whose IDF support campaigns are funded by completely by private donors from across the world. If you would like to sponsor a soldiers or an entire IDF unit you can visit our website at: http://www.stogether.org/keeping-idf-soldiers-cool/.

Standing Together’s Assistant Director, Ari Fuld, will be in the States from June 23rd-29th speaking in different communities and meeting with people in order to raise funds for Standing Together’s IDF campaigns.

If you would like to set up a community IDF project or sponsor any or some of Standing Together’s activities, contact Ari Fuld at ari@stogether.org.

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28 COMMENTS

  1. Not to sound picky, but he is not the grandson of THE Satmar Rebbe, R. Yoel Teitelbaum. He is the grandson of R. Moshe Teitelbaum, nephew of R. Yoel and his successor. So he's the grandson of A Satmar Rebbe and a close relative of THE Satmar Rebbe.

  2. Serving in the IDF is a great shlichut but so is learning Torah. Everybody has their own mission and it is important to understand that what is good for one person is not for the other. I am glad Chaim found his mission in life!!! Kol HaKavod to him and also to my own brave son who is serving also our nation.

  3. if there were no medinah, there would be peace – unfortunately 20,000 holy Jews have died in this ridiculous army since 1948 because people couldn't wait for Moshaich – very sad – al eilah ani bochiyah 🙁 – nothing to do with religious or not religious, simply stated, it is grave pikuach nefesh – before the 1890's Jews and Muslims lived in peace – if it weren't for this movement, all 6,000,000 could have been saved but they insisted on letting Jews die and pressured every government not to allow Jewish refugees so they could get a medinah after the war, so it is not only the blood of the 20,000 Jewish soldiers that is on the hands of Ben Gurion and Herzl, but also the blood of the 6,000,000 as well who could have been saved if they didn't pressure every country to block Jewish refugees so they could look like heroes after the war but really they were villains – if someone secretly sets fire to a home and then wakes up the family to try to look like a hero by saving them, is such a person a hero or a villain? Here it was no secret, these were the ones who made the fire, and they brainwash Jews to think by joining their army they are heroes when really they are cannon fodder and pawns in their evil.

  4. The last paragraph of the story is where we learn from. Some people try to make a major tzimis about satmar haskofas not understanding the slightest bit, AND NOT WANTING TO EITHER, about the haskofos because it happens to conflict with their own beliefs. what we saw from here was that despite the pushing and the prodding that the interviewer did, even though he didn’t I’m sure it was there a little bit, Chaim wasn’t going to big heart in the Loshon Hara aspect of it.

    I don’t think it has anything to do with his IDF service that he didn’t bite. It definitely is in the genes!

    HaShem should watch over him and all of klal yisroel no matter where they are.

  5. The amount of blindness you have along with a side dish of bias is actually funny. Chaim, left Satmar and reasons why were completely left out of the article in order NOT to turn it into a bashing article.
    Chaim would not say a bad word about those who shut him out, bad mouth him and shoot him down at every possible opportunity but you give the same source of the bad mouthing and bashing the credit for Chaim’s derech Eretz?
    Can your lack of logic be any worse?

  6. you are a real sick person. jews were murdered by the thousands and millions because we did not have a state and army. your prayers did not help and neither did sitting in yeshivot. your pathetic rabbis told jews to stay in europe and not leave to israel or the west and then these same rabbis ran leaving their flock to die. you are a disgrace to the jewish people, and tend to doubt that your roots are jewish.

  7. Hello Joseph,
    first of all I am happy to see you are not listening to your rabbis who deemed the internet absolutely Assur and we won't begin to talk about Facebook.

    Now to your complete ignorance of history.
    You would like to judge a situation be the number of Jews killed? Let's do that! How many Satmar's were murdered in hugngary after they wouldn't accept Visas from the Mizrachi movement (RELIGIOUS Zionists!) How many Satmar Jews dies because the Rebbe opposed and refused to cooperate with the Zionists to get Jews out of Hungary? I know I know, they died al kiddush Hashem for not leaving to Eretz Yisrael!

    Muslims lived peacefully? Really? Let' start with Mohammed who slaughtered the Jews in medinah for not converting or the forced conversions of endless Jews to Islam!
    Tell me Joseph, did the Rambam write Igeres Teiman because of the "Peace" that existed between Muslims and jews or was it because of the Medinah? Your ignorance hurts and is an embarrassment. The Mufti did not team up with Hitler and Muslims never called Jews pigs or Monkeys.
    Funny, he didn't mention Zionists, only Jews!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKeAVBYAbn0

    Wait for Moshiach? Please don't make statements as if they are Halacha. Rambam, Shulchan Aruch, Ramban, Rif <Rashba and every other halachic source completely disagrees with you. If you would like the sources, just ask! In fact, I dare you to find me a single halachic source from Shulchan Aruch or Rambam or Ramban or anywhere else outside of Vyoel Moshe that agrees with your mistake!

    Blaming the Holocaust on Jews building Eretz Yisrael. I really wish there was a way to do DNA testing to find the descendants of the Erev Rav. I love how you and the worst of Israel's enemies share the same views, you mother must be shlepping Nachas!

    Brainwashed ? Really?
    You mean the Satmar community that ostracizes anyone who thinks that they should study history for example or not that they don't need to wear a Bekheshe is called free thinking but those of us who whowere given an opportunity to study the world as well as Torah are brainwashed? Just listening to your fabrication of history in your comment is enough to understand that knowledge has nothing to do with your views.

    just remember one thing Joseph, when all is said and done, the Satmar Rebb went against his own ideology when he escaped the Galus on a train that was organized by Kastner, a ZIONIST! The funny thing is, he was a pretty bad person and yet the Satmar rebbe still used him to escape and then went where? ERETZ Yisrael!

    I guess getting internet is the first step in your education and rehab, now go study history.

    Not all Satmar are as nuts as you and many of them would never speak the way you do. I guess that's what happens when you are on the Treif internet!

    ולמלשינים אל תהי תקווה!

  8. 6,000,00 souls were murdered because of rampant AntiSemitism, not Zionism. You also state that before the 1890's (before Zionism) Jews and Muslims lived in peace. NOT TRUE. There was a massacre of Jews in Safed in 1834. In the mid 1800s there were at least a half dozen pogroms that took place in variious cities in Iran with hundreds killed. In Fez and Marrakesh, 500 were murdered in 1864. (all long before Zionism). Your attempts to distort history are despicible! You tell these stories in order to justify your belief that people should have waited for moshiach, but even in ancient times they returned to build the Second Beit Hamikdash without mashiach. You are entitled to your beliefs, but you are not entitled to change history to justify your beliefs.

  9. Well well well, joseph kaufman! At least here you don't put the title Rabbi like you do on Twitter!
    On how many platforms do I have to prove that you are a total ignoramus when it comes to history and Halacha?

    A post I wrote for Joseph!
    When Jews use religion to hate Israel!
    http://israelshield.blogspot.co.il/2015/02/when-jews-use-religion-to-hate-israel.html

    I already challenged you on your views and you have run from every debate!
    If you find me a single Seif in Shulchan Aruch, Rambam or any other Halachic work that states the Shvuos are Halacha, I change my page to SatmarShield!

    The ONLY source for your Kfira is a MDRASH in the Gemara and NO ONE brings it down as halacha!

    Even when the Rambam mentions it in Igeres Teiman, he calls them a Allegory (Mashal) and is posek directly against them in Hilchot Melachim where he states clearly that every one should live in EY even in a town filled with Idolators. Rambam lived AFTER the Churban so I guess he is cholek on Satmar…oh wait….that's right, Satmar is Cholek on the Rambam, Ramban, Shulchan Aruch and every other major haalchic work.
    There is more Torah in Eretz Yisrael than there was ever befor for 2,000 years! The land is blossoming like it hasn't in 2,000 years! Jews gathering from all four corners of the Earth!

    Now if I were to look at what hashem promises, does that sound like the blessings or the curses HE said would happen?

    You don't represent Judaism, Chassidism and not even Satmar. you represent a sad, frustrated and hating individual, yourself.

  10. Avi Goldstein please do not associate Joseph with religious jews or even with Satmar. he does not represent anyone but himself. There are plenty of Ultra Orthodox and Yeshiva students and Rabbis who have love for Israel and her soldiers.

  11. grandchildren can certainly take different career paths from their grandfathers. it is said, for example, that Haman's grandchildren learned in yeshiva in Bnei Brak; if given the opportunity, they too might have joined the IDF

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