Chareidim in the Israel Navy

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in.jpgAfter Nachal Chareidi, and chareidim in the air force, it now appears chareidim will also be counted among the ranks of the Israel Navy.

A first group of 30 chareidi inductees is expected to enter into the navy in March 2009, joining the force’s technical team, to serve in a Haifa naval base. The group will of course be placed in a situation that accommodates their lifestyle, including all male instructors, only male groups, glatt kosher meals, and a timetable permitting minyan three times daily.

Naval officials acknowledge that they are having difficulty meeting manpower demands, and they have also opened a track for hesder soldiers to serve in the navy in the hope of attracting combatants affiliated with the Dati Leumi camp. Officials stated if the March group proves successful, the navy will open its doors to additional chareidi units.

The air force about a year ago began accepting chareidim to a pilot program, assigning them to a technical unit. Reports have been positive, with officers reporting motivation is high among the group and it appears the program is successful, as has been the case with the Nachal Chareidi/Netzach Yehuda. 150 chareidim are serving in the air force and an additional 50 are about to enter.

The air force will then have to make a number of changes to accommodate the 200 chareidim, as well as weighing the future of the program and the logistics involved in bringing in a larger number of ‘special needs’ soldiers.

There are now reports that IDF Intelligence Corps officials are entertaining a pilot program of chareidim as well.

Not all the response has been overwhelming. One senior unnamed chareidi chinuch personality quoted in the Yisrael HaYom daily newspaper states he is most concerned over the navy program, since the navy is known for its lack of modesty and other religious values, including Shabbos desecration and problems with kashrus.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)


14 COMMENTS

  1. This is amazing! While I am far from a posek, but I know the Torah specifies able bodied men for military service. So in my mind, it is a huge mitzvah to protect the land of Israel. Although, I know some of you gedolei hador will argue that point because there is an irreligious government.

    What’s important about this program is it is a way to build bridges with the non-religious. But more importantly, these holy young men will be able to serve and not compromise their hashkafa. If enough of them join, blatant Shabbat desecration will be curtailed – obviously for pikuach nefesh that is irrelevant.

    They will learn technical skills, which may help them earn parnassa to help them provide for their future families. This is important because there is a ‘brain drain’ going on in Israel, and how great would that be if the frum young men enter the workforce in high tech and other important areas? I’m sure if there is enough of them, the employers will help them set up a kollel.

    There is no shame in being an earner and a learner. Many of our Gedolim throughout history did it.

  2. How considerate of them. According to Israeli law, the navy is supposed to be strictly kosher and strictly Shomer Shabbos to beging with. It’s just like the United States was with the black soldiers prior to the 1950s – they were allowed to serve in special units and were fully accomodated with limited opportunities until finally it was agreed, shortly after World War II, to let them serve as equals. If Israel were a Jewish state (rather than one dedicated to being an “Am hofshi be-artsienu” (meaning, free from the yoke of Torah), all army units would be open to Hareidim, and the hilonim could have “special” units to accomodate their needs. By serving in these “Jim Crow” units, Hareidim do more damage to Yiddishkeit than the Palestinians could ever do.

  3. #1: Not being in the Israeli Army (or refusing to cooperate with the Zionist state in anything else) doesn’t have anything to do with the state being religious or not. Go learn Vayoel Moshe or a lot of other seforim, or ask a serious rav. (I’m not saying that you need to be a Satmar chossid, but the reasons against the state listed in Vayoel Moshe are valid for everybody. Whether you decide to actually actively oppose the state or not is up to you / your rav.)

  4. Religious in the military? The further back you go in history, the more this is not such an unusual thing. So, why the besmirching of the IDF? The world is filled with a lack of modesty and other religious values, so don’t live in the world?

  5. veryinteresting — The IDF is notorious for their appaling lack of modesty, to put it very mildly.

    It is no place for a Ben (and certainly kama vkama a Bas) Torah.

  6. Please–the entire working world is (and it was in the time of the gedolim also) full of “immodesty.” No where in the Torah does it say keep yourself in the closet, so to speak.

  7. Joseph – I will take your word that the IDF is known for it’s lack of modesty and other religious values, but I will take it to your extreme and assume every IDF soldier who I see pictured davening and wearing tefillin is a moral low-life. Nor do I think it is fair if Chareidi have decided to enter the armed forces that have have or will, heaven forbid, go off the derech. Also, your statement about b’nei Torah is very generalized. Not every observant male is necessarily a “Ben Torah” and not everyone who is a “Ben Torah” is incapable of what is required militarily as well as being strong when around less scrupulous people.

  8. While it does not matter to me if you are a liberal, I share your concerns but I also think such a generalization can be unfair to everyone who wears an IDF uniform as well as the gentlemen who are the subject of this article.

  9. My dear veryinteresting — I am hardly liberal by any definition. Au contraire. I said I use the term Ben/Bas Torah liberally. As far as the IDF, joining their ranks is akin to walking into a burning building. You may survive. Or you may perish.

  10. Rabbi Aryeh Levine Z”L used to characterize all Israeli soldiers as angels, and said no one knows how to appreciate them properly (re: A Tzaddik in our Time, by R. Simcha Raz). He never used the term “Religious soldiers” he meant each and every one of them who risks his or her life so that Jews can live in security in Israel.
    No one here knows how Hashem judges them, and for all your aspersions against them, it would not suprise me to find them on a higher level in Olam Haba for all their sacrifices.
    If anything, the Chareidim serving in Tzahal are raising their own self worth and those they will make friends and serve with in their duties.

  11. While there has been no “official” framework for Chareidim in the Israeli navy until now, yeshiva students have nevertheless been a steady presence in the navy. Since Boys Town Jerusalem was founded 60 years ago, many alumni of BTJ have served in the navy, become officers and received commendations for outstanding service.

    A recent Mishna Study Program for soldiers, run by the Boys Town alumni association in cooperation with the IDF chaplaincy, provided a heartwarming glimpse into the perseverance of these soldiers at Torah study, even under circumstances that are less than optimum. Participants in the program were required to answer questionnaires on Mishna topics in order to qualify for higher education scholarship stipends. One BTJ alumnus, serving on a missile boat, submitted a water-logged form that had been soaked while he was filling it out on deck.

    Boys Town Jerusalem’s students, from 7th through 12th grade, study an in-depth Torah curriculum in tandem with their high level technological studies. The vast majority of our graduates serve not only in the Israeli Navy, but in all IDF units. We are proud that they continue their Torah observance and studies in the IDF and throughout their lives. They are a constant source of pride to Boys Town Jerusalem, the Israeli nation and the Jewish People as a whole.