VIDEO & PHOTOS: Nachal Chareidi Soldier Meets His Christian Mother

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[VIDEO IN EXTENDED ARTICLE]

The Nachal Chareidi Foundation has decided to surprise a soldier of the Chareidi battalion, Diego Tapia, and flew in his mother and sister to his closing training ceremony that took place yesterday. Diego who converted to Judaism and made Aliyah, hasn’t seen his Columbian mother in over six years. A Single eye wasn’t left dry during the reunion, and the soldier and his mother could hardly part. “It is an excitement and a great joy”, said the mother.

Diego was born in Columbia 28 years ago in a Catholic family. During his university studies, he was drawn to a spiritual self-quest, and started to take interest in various religions. Two specific Jewish philosophy books particularly captivated his attention: the “Kuzari” and “Moreh Nevuchim. Upon reading, Diego started to understand the uniqueness of Yiddishkheit.

One of Diego’s friends explains: “Diego didn’t find the idea of connecting this material world to spirituality in any other religion. Most religions speak of disconnecting from the body and this world for you to link yourself to God. They are too spiritual, and usually address you to meditation and self-contemplation. But the basic creed in Judaism is to connect the temporal and eternal trough actual acts, and that what appealed to Diego”.

And so, Diego decided that Judaism is the right religion and therefore came to study more about it in a yeshiva in Jerusalem. Consequently he converted in a very demanding procedure which lasted more than 3 years. Today he is an observant Jew. Five and a half years after he crossed the Ben-Gurion Airport Terminal doors, at the age of 28, he decided to join the combat battalion of the Nachal Chareidi.

This week he finished his intensive training. But the Nachal Chareidi Foundation that established the battalion and escorts it along with the Defense Social Branch of the Ministry of Defense was not satisfied with the fact the all he will be given would be a graduation pin. Therefore the foundation decided to flew in his mother, Mercedes, and his sister, whom he hadn’t met since he left behind ‘the other’ life, so he would be escorted during the ceremony by his family as the rest of the soldiers.

In a less than day notice they boarded a flight from Bogotá to Tel Aviv, which lasted 20 hours, just so they could stand next to Diego in the ceremony, and to make the event powerful and exceptionally exciting.

One of his commanders went on the stage and gave the cue for the entrance of Columbian retinue. With a timid smile and accompanied by the female soldiers of the unit, the mother and her daughter entered the auditorium, and everyone started crying.

“The hugs between the mother and her son brought everyone to tears during this event”, summarized Rabbi David Fuchs, one of the rabbonim of the Nachal Chareidi Foundation, “It was one of the most breathtaking events of my life”. And mother Mercedes added: “It’s a feeling of joy, It is a great excitement and a big surprise”.

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(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem / Photos: Hillel Meir)

20 COMMENTS

  1. ujm says:
    May 16, 2014 at 11:06 am

    She’s no longer his mother, according to halacha, as he became a ger.

    a mother’s love does not end because of halacha neither a son’s love for his mother

  2. beautiful! The mora nevuchim and kuzari are precisely part of those sefarim that even those that were born frum would need to learn extensively. I can see his neshama if he said that these are the sefarim that convinced him. Amazing!

  3. ujm – You are correct. Halachically, she is not his mother, so he will not have to sit shiva for her, say kaddish for her, etc. (She’s not even Jewish, so it’s inapplicable).
    However, she is is mother biologically, maternally having raised him and emotionally. That is the point. Just because something isn’t so halachically, doesn’t make it not so at all.

  4. You’d better make a correction to the Torah text because it refers to Yisro as Moshe’s father-in-law, even though, his daughter Tzipora was a geyores.

  5. Unlikely he was born in Columbia(spelled with a U) which is the name of several places in the USA. The south American country is ColOmbia. In any case it is nice Zionist PR.

  6. Rambam, Hilcohos Mamrim 5:11:

    “A convert is forbidden to curse his gentile father, or to hit him. He should not shame him so that people shouldn’t say he came from a stringent sanctity to a lenient sanctity, for this one is shaming his father. Rather, he must conduct himself with his father with a bit (“miktzas”) of honor.”

    A ger can also have yichud with his or her biological parents, children, grandchildren, and siblings.

    There is also an inyan of hakoras hatov.

  7. zappy: I dunno if yichud is a problem but touching certainly is a problem. And the above video evidence against him on this count is not good.

  8. For all we know his mother could be from a Marrano family. There are many Hispanic and Latino geirim who are drawn to Yiddishkeit possibly because they have Jewish roots.

  9. Chachon do live up to your claimed nickname and back up your statement with sources, right now your statement stinks of an am-ha-aretz trying to find fault in someone else.
    Here’s at least one source that doesn’t back you:

    ד,ד הגויים–אין חייבין עליהם משום נידה, ולא משום זבה, ולא משום יולדת. וחכמים גזרו על כל הגויים, זכרים ונקבות, שיהו כזבים תמיד, בין ראו בין לא ראו–לעניין טומאה וטהרה.

    Rambam Hilchos Issurei Biah 4:4

    So why can’t he touch his own non-jewish mother? Were she to be his Jewish mother there would be no problem even when she was nidah, a non-jewish woman who we don’t care about here nidah state who also happens to be his mother he most certainly can touch.

  10. He was caught in such a surprise. Weatyer aloud or not, what to you want from him when caught is this huge surprise in public? Definitely אל תדין/ תדון חברך עד שתגיע למקומו. First become a ger and dont see them so many years and then the medina brings your parent without notice… lets see your reaction. People are even mechalel shabbes by mistake when something very out of the ordinary happens. Besides that a posek only can rule, but this was such a surprise and טומל what do you expect from him?