Baruch Hashem, the growing number of Shomer Shabbat officers in the IDF is having a good impact, a Kiddush Hashem, compelling the army to make major modifications at its prestigious Ba’ad 1, Officers’ Training Base.
Because of the rapidly growing number of dati leumi officers who are married, some with families, a mini hotel is being constructed on the base to accommodate the officers and their families as well a rabbonim who at times are compelled to spend Shabbos on the base, perhaps to deliver lectures or perform other services as guests of the base.
Part of the ongoing rehab project in the base will include opening the pool, but officials report that a mechitza is being constructed around it, and for a first time, separate swimming hours will be offered for men and women who wish to take advantage.
For over a decade, at least 25% of the graduating combat officers are identified with hesder and kippot srugot, and there is a growing number moving up the chain of command to company commanders and higher, with some “Mechinot” graduates today holding the rank of colonel.
The new lodging facility is expected to open next week and it is primarily to accommodate the shomer Shabbos officers serving on the base, providing accommodations for their wives and families, who prior to this, were left with a solution for Shabbos, compelling the families to remain apart.
Generally, hundreds of soldiers are on base on Shabbos and the new lodging will also accommodate rabbonim, who are frequently invited from around Israel to address soldiers over Shabbos.
Baruch Hashem, the growing number of frum soldiers has also left the shul packed, resulting in a new expanded shul, which officials report will accommodate three times as many mispalalim.
There is also a separate company, permitting frum soldiers who wish to remain apart from the female officer cadets on the base.
Ba’ad 1 was inaugurated in 1968, located near Mitzpei Ramon. Since that time, very little has been done to modify its inherent structure but the demand of the shomer Shabbos military community has created new realities, and the army is working to meet those realities.
In the coming months, some of the housing shortage problem will be alleviated when the new barracks for the Gefen battalion is opened, housing the cadets training as combat officers.
By the way, unlike most shuls on IDF bases, constructed to accommodate men only, this shul will have a women’s section, and its design the army says will resemble the “burning bush”.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)