President Reuven Rivlin lit the first candle of Hanuka Sunday evening, with soldiers from the IDF Haredi Tomer battalion of the Givati Brigade, the Hetz company of the Paratroops Brigade and the Netzah Yisrael battalion of the Kfir Brigade.
Brigadier Eran Shani, head of the planning and administration division of the Manpower Directorate and head of the Haredi administration, and Lt.-Col. Telem Hazan also participated.
Some 7,400 Haredi solders serve as officers and solders in the IDF. There has been a tenfold increase in the number of ultra-orthodox enlistees in recent years.
“I look at you and see modern-day Hasmoneans – soldiers, warriors, righteous men who learn Torah. This is really a Hanuka miracle,” said the president. “I am also impressed by the diversity I see here – Hassidim, Lithuanians and Sephardim. You represent all the strands of the Haredi community. I want to express my deep appreciation for your contribution to the security of the State of Israel. Your contribution is wide-ranging. You are a bridge of unity. You have not broken out, you are breaking a new path.”
The president told the soldiers at the conclusion of the ceremony: “You are an inspiration and you prove to us all that we can find the balance between protecting the country and protecting our what is most important to us. Each one of you has his own values and his own way of life.
“I remember when I was in military service, there were several Haredi soldiers with me. We did not change our way of life and we did not try to change our comrades’ way of life. We were all brothers in arms.”