96 youth from the Ultra-Orthodox community concluded last week the first ever pre-IDF course offered to the community members. The course, offered by the Ministry of Defense, was aimed at exposing the youth to the IDF and the special Haredi battalion and boosting the motivation of Ultra-Orthodox youth to enlist in the IDF.
Coming from Bnei Brak, Beit Shemesh, Kiryat Sefer and other Haredi communities, the participants experienced, during the week long course, a military like environment similar to basic training. Together with the forced marches and maneuvers, weapons training and Krav Maga, they heard lectures from rabbis and military officers and encountered the experiences of Ultra Orthodox soldiers who have enlisted before them.
All activities were tailored to meet the halachic requirements of the participants, including Glatt-Kosher Mehadrin kosher food.
Tsuriel Piltz, coordinator of activities at the Ministry of Defense for Haredi youth, explained that these unique preparatory days were conducted in a manner that respected the sensitivities of the participants, during which they learned that they can serve in the IDF in a meaningful fashion while fully maintaining their religious lifestyle. “The number of participants this year has given us much hope for upcoming inductions and the possibility of integrating Haredi youth into the IDF.”
The IDF has recently marked 15 years since the establishment of the Netzach Yehuda Battalion, the Ultra Orthodox battalion that enables Ultra-Orthodox Israelis to serve in the IDF in an atmosphere conducive to their religious convictions, within a framework that is strictly halachically observant. The unit started off with only 89 soldiers; Over 800 joined up during 2013.
Amikam Savirsky, of the Ministry of Defense stated: “The IDF and Israeli society are currently in the midst of a gradual historical process in which the number of Haredi soldiers enlisting constantly grows. The Ministry will continue to encourage this process in various methods, preparing the youth for their induction into the army.”
Udi Dror, another Ministry of Defense official, added: “This program is another milestone in the endeavor to enlist Ultra Orthodox youth into tracks that will create new leaders. The contribution is twofold, to the IDF and the Israeli society and economy.”
About the Author: Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.
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