Orthodox Jewish Enlistment Continues to Rise

May 25, 2012  

While the Knesset debates various laws regarding the IDF draft, the hareidi community continues to gradually increase its enlistment rates. For the first time, hareidi soldiers have been given their own rabbi, who will help meet the soldiers’ unique religious needs.

Rabbi Shimshon Klein was sworn in at a ceremony in Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue. “I plan to be a bridge between heads of yeshivas and the Torah world, and IDF commanders,” he said.

IDF Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Rafi Peretz, expressed enthusiasm, “Rabbi Klein’s appointment is an important step toward the integration of hareidim,” he said.

Chief Shephardi rabbi, Rabbi Shlomo Amar, said, “The soldiers’ eyes are watching you… always remember that there are great things expected from you.” Rabbi Amar added a blessing for the IDF soldiers and rabbis.

In addition to creating a new rabbinic position, the IDF now has a track for hareidi young men who are ineligible for combat for medical reasons. Those who cannot serve in Netzach Yehuda, the hareidi brigade, now have the option of Netzach Kachol.

The unit works in mechanical engineering for the air force.

Several soldiers spoke to Arutz Sheva about their experiences. “I always wanted to enlist,” said Netanel Zichri. Another young man, Refael Bohbout, said, “I felt that I wasn’t doing all I could in yeshiva… I had done what I could there. I decided it was time to give to the country.”

The soldiers spend two years in active service. A third year is dedicated to education, which for most soldiers means completing their high school matriculation tests (Bagruyot). In addition, soldiers spend one month touring the country learning Israeli and Jewish history.

The program is expected to benefit the country long after the soldiers’ active service ends, IDF officials said. After their service, soldiers will be trained in valuable mechanical work, they said.

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