web analytics
January 27, 2015 / 7 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Israel’s Haredi Soldiers Take Their Spirit Into The Field

Soldiers of the Netzach Yehuda unit.

Soldiers of the Netzach Yehuda unit.

TEL AVIV – Like any of the Israeli army’s combat battalions, the soldiers of Netzach Yehuda faced a 60-mile hike during basic training meant to simulate battle conditions.

They hiked with their gear at night and during the day, up and down hills and through rough terrain. One night, their commanders told them their supply trucks had been bombed and they needed to ration whatever food and water they had left.

Finishing the hike, they put down their gear and caught their breath. As a band played traditional Jewish wedding tunes, they began to dance as if one of the soldiers had just been married.

Popularly known as the Nahal Haredi, Netzach Yehuda is the haredi Orthodox division of the Israeli army, and its combat and reserve forces number several thousands of men.

For decades, haredi men in Israel have received exemptions from otherwise mandatory service in the Israel Defense Forces so that they could study in yeshivas. Many are non-Zionist or anti-Zionist, and mass protests erupted in haredi neighborhoods this summer when the government came close to passing a law requiring haredi men to serve.

Even if a law were to be passed, some supporters of mandatory haredi service question the army’s ability to accommodate thousands of new draftees who require stringent kosher certification and eschew any contact with women.

Netzach Yehuda has attempted to address those issues on a smaller scale. And though they say that the IDF sometimes falls short in its efforts to accommodate the battalion, its soldiers and administrators feel that since its founding in 1999, the program has worked.

“It’s a little more of a Torah atmosphere,” said Yehuda, 20, who is serving now in Netzach Yehuda. “There are fewer problems with prayer and army regulations.”

After they finish training, Netzach Yehuda soldiers serve in and around the West Bank Palestinian city of Jenin, fulfilling the same duties as other combat units. But when they’re not on combat missions, the soldiers’ schedule includes time for three daily minyanim, including at least 45 minutes for the morning service. A synagogue always stands close to their barracks, giving the soldiers space to pray or learn a page of Talmud during breaks. Rabbis occasionally come to their bases to teach Torah.

In addition, the battalion’s food is mehadrin kosher, an especially stringent certification. And the soldiers receive ritual fringes on a green rather than white undergarment, so that it will match their combat uniforms.

Netzach Yehuda’s soldiers also have little if any direct contact with women, which accords with the strict gender separation in haredi communities. While women often teach fitness classes in the IDF, men run those classes for the haredi soldiers.

“They come back and they’re even stronger from a religious viewpoint than when they came in,” said Rabbi Tzvi Kledanow, head of the Netzach Yehuda nonprofit, which runs the battalion jointly with the army and Defense Ministry.

“The environment is a very positive environment. It has everything it requires to avail itself to a haredi young man.”

But Kledanow was quick to note that though the army accommodates the haredi soldiers, the soldiers don’t necessarily enter Netzach Yehuda supporting the army.

“They’re not Zionist at all,” Kledanow said. “Not only are they not Zionist, but their education is anti-Zionist.”

He says the soldiers enlist because “not every haredi boy is cut out to sit and learn 12 to 14 hours in yeshiva every day. They feel they need a different life, and in order to work you have to do the army.”

That pragmatic line of thinking stands in contrast to the official position of Israel’s haredi leaders and much of their rank and file, which remains opposed to the idea of haredi army service even as the government tries to mandate it. A large portion of haredim are opposed to or agnostic toward Zionism.

“Everyone out there is a sinner,” said Yehuda Cohen, 20, a haredi student at Yeshivat Porat Yosef in Jerusalem’s Old City. “The Land of Israel belongs to Jews if they keep the Torah. If there’s no Torah we don’t deserve the land.”

Such communal attitudes make returning to haredi life difficult for Netzach Yehuda soldiers. Because “to marry a boy that was in the army is a no-no,” Kledanow says, Netzach Yehuda helps the battalion’s veterans to find matches for marriage and then helps them fund their weddings, if necessary.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Israel’s Haredi Soldiers Take Their Spirit Into The Field”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Hassnain Aliamin , one of four Muslim teenagers who attacked a Jew in Gateshead.
‘Let’s Go Jew-Bashing’ Muslims Hauled into British Court
Latest News Stories
Robert Singer, CEO of the World Jewish Congress; Natan Grossman (Germany); Samuel Beller (US); Florence Sprung (US); Manny Buchman (US); Mascha Schainberg (South Africa); Marcel Tuchman (US); Rose Schindler (US); Jonny Pekats (US); Henry Korman (Germany); Ronald Lauder; Mordechai Ronen (Canada); Joseph Madrowitz (US); Edgar Wildfeuer (Argentina).

Fifteen Auschwitz survivors, aged 80-94, returned this morning, Monday January 26, to the infamous death camp, Auschwitz, some for the first time.

yair lapid swears

Yair Lapid has announced his Yesh Atid list for the upcoming elections….

Kosher Wine Review features a wine from Yatir, whose grapes are grown the Judean Hills south of Hebron.

God has not cooperated with the Boycott Israel movement.

El Al has canceled its popular 001 after-midnight flight from Ben Gurion Airport to JFK in New York because of the expected blizzard that is forecast to cripple the Northeast in the United States. Flight 027 to Newark, New Jersey will take off 11 hours late, and the flight from Newark to Tel Aviv will […]

Maybe the court will forgive the gang because one of them apologized.

Ari Ne’eman, a pioneer in autism self-advocacy, awarded the Ruderman Prize in Inclusion.

IDF soldiers were dragged to missionary evening of ‘appreciation’ for soldiers who fought in Operation Protective Edge last summer in Gaza.

As they say in Egyptian, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

French far-rightist politician Jean-Marie Le Pen suffered a facial injury.

Apple may have handed the Chinese government access to the software used in its iPhones.

Was it a toy? A test by Al Qaeda? Or maybe Amazon got the wrong address?

ISIS-linked cyber terrorists promoting a ‘Cyber Caliphate’ were busy early Monday hacking the website of Malaysia Airlines.

Canada’s Conservative government is set to consider new anti-terror legislation by the end of this week, following some nations in Europe.

The Old City of Jerusalem is made up of multiple cultures living side by side, in various degrees of conflict and cooperation.

More Articles from Ben Sales
Israeli winery

“You want to know what this wine looked like, which wine King David drank, white or red…. We can see if it’s red or white, strong or weak.”

IDF soldiers rush injured Israelis to Soroka Hospital in Beersheva after a mortar fired from Gaza exploded at an army staging area near Kibbutz Nirim, close to the Gaza border. The attack occurred shortly before a cease-fire went into effect on Tuesday. Three Israelis visiting the area were hit; two of them died of their wounds.

After a month, should the quiet hold, Israel and Hamas will restart indirect negotiations in Cairo on easing Israel’s blockade of the coastal strip and disarming the enclave.

Shlomy Zachary, an Israeli human rights lawyer, noted that Israeli cooperation with previous UN investigations has helped mitigate criticism of Israel – for example, in a 2010 UN investigation of the so-called flotilla incident.

Smart bombs: Israeli war technology isn’t limited to the home front.

“The values I learned from my parents are probably the same values I hope Christians and Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists teach to their people.”

On Monday, Lapid told JTA that he would sooner agree to freeze settlement growth than free Palestinian prisoners, as Netanyahu has done previously in an effort to advance the process.

“He was like everyone else,” she said. “He was serious. He wouldn’t mess around. He would do what I said. He was quiet a lot and thought a lot. He did everything well.”

More than having a hand on the wheel, the year since the formation of the new government has seen Jewish Home and the coalition’s other smaller parties driving much of the government’s agenda. Netanyahu’s Likud party has taken a back seat on everything besides security affairs.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/idf/israels-haredi-soldiers-take-their-spirit-into-the-field/2012/08/29/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: