[PHOTOS IN EXTENDED ARTICLE]
This Monday marked 18 years to the founding of the first Haredi combat battalion. Eighteen is the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew word “Chai,” life, and thus symbolic of this concept. A special gathering was hosted in honor of this noteworthy event. The affair was attended by IDF Central District Commander Major-General Roni Numa; IDF Chief Rabbi Brigadier-General Rabbi Eyal Karim, Rabbi Yaron David, Executive Director of Nachal Haredi Organization, Rabbi David Fuchs, Rabbi Shaul Avdiel, Rabbi Yitzchak Bar-Haim, and veterans and current members of the battalion.
Netzach Yehuda (Nachal Chareidi) is the pioneering chareidi battalion in the IDF and promotes the integration of chareidi soldiers into the military. Three years after its formation, the battalion was linked as an infantry unit to the Kfir Brigade; and in the past year led the counterterrorism battle following the recent wave of terror incidents. In the near future, battalion soldiers will return to the Binyamin region, where they were deployed throughout the past year in the framework of counterterrorism missions and engage in noncombat employment operations.
Addressing the audience, Lieutenant-Colonel Itamar Deshel said: “When the first Nachal Chareidi battalion formed, it numbered all of 31 soldiers. No one could envisage the wonders that we bear witness to today—a victorious combat battalion that unites all Tribes of Israel from across the country and Diaspora. Nachal Chareidi is a model and paradigm for many other recruitment projects in the IDF. I am proud to command this battalion which today spearheads counterterrorism within the framework of the Kfir Brigade.”
Rabbi Yitzchak Bar-Haim, a rabbi affiliated with Nachal Chareidi Organization expressed: “Today, we bear witness to an inspirational event that both proves and emphasizes our triumphs throughout the year. We strongly believe that our very existence demonstrates to the entire Jewish nation that it is, indeed, possible to serve in the IDF without compromising on a Haredi lifestyle. As we saw manifested this evening, thousands of young men have chosen the Netzach Yehuda track, were integrated into the IDF, and realized their dreams of safeguarding our nation and country without compromising on any of their religious standards. We are an indistinguishable aspect of Israeli society, and we will continue operating and expanding into all realms without surrendering the values that are most important to us.”
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)