Jerusalem – 18 years after the Israel Defense Force established its first religiously observant military unit, the Netzach Yehuda batallion celebrated the milestone moment with a commemorative ceremony that included Major General Roni Numa, commander of the IDF’s Central Command and Colonel Eyal Krim, chief rabbi of the IDF.
Also known as the Nachal Chareidi, the Netzach Yehuda battalion is part of the IDF’s Kfir Brigade. It was established in 1999 with just over 30 soldiers to give Charedi soldiers the opportunity to serve in the military without compromising on their religious standards.
The success of Netzach Yehuda, battalion number 97, has far eclipsed its founders expectations, Lieutenant Colonel Itamar Deshel told Arutz Sheva (http://bit.ly/2mYAWx8).
“When the first group of 31 soldiers was formed, no one could have imagined the incredible results that we see here today,” said Lieutenant Colonel Deshel. “This is a battalion that engages in combat and wins, that is a unifying factor for all of the tribes of Israel from all corners of the world. It is a model for other projects within the IDF and I am proud to serve as the commander for this battalion that is at the forefront of the war on terror.”
Just one month ago Netzach Yehuda was honored for neutralizing several terror attacks, including a car ramming at a military checkpoint near the town of Ofra, and another attack in the Romema section of Jerusalem. Netzach Yehuda was honored as the most outstanding battalion for the month of January and has been the recipient of several other accolades for its outstanding performance.
Rabbi Yitzchak Bar Chaim, one of the founding rabbis of the Nachal Chareidi, said that the 18 year milestone was concrete proof of the battalion’s success. He pledged that Netzach Yehuda would continue giving Chareidi soldiers an opportunity to distinguish themselves while still conducting themselves in accordance with their religious beliefs.
“We see thousands here who have chosen the path of Netzach Yehuda, who have become part of Tzahal and have fulfilled their dream of protecting the State of Israel while still being able to uphold their religious beliefs,” said Rabbi Bar Chaim. “We are an inseparable part of Israeli society and we will continue to serve our country while staying true to the Torah values that are important to us.”
More than 10,000 soldiers have served in the Netzach Yehuda battalion since its inception. Uri Dror, head of the Defense Ministry’s recruitment department, described the battalion’s 18th anniversary as a landmark event.
“The recruitment of ultra-Orthodox young men will grow the next leaders of the ultra-Orthodox youth,” said Dror. “It is a gradual process that will have the number of Chareidi soldiers continually increasing. This is an important social, national mission that will contribute to Israeli society in general and to Charedi society in particular.”
Six Orthodox Jewish soldiers from the New Jersey area were inducted into the Nachal Chareidi battalion this past October as reported by The Jewish Link (http://bit.ly/2m2hs6Z).
One of those was Marc Cohen of Elizabeth, who said that having being raised in a home that was extremely supportive of Israel he had always dreamed of becoming a soldier in the IDF but never expected that his dream would one day become a reality. All that changed when three Israeli teens, Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach, were kidnapped and murdered in June 2014.
“I felt helpless,” said Cohen. “Then Operation Protective Edge broke out. While sitting in camp and reading the names of the soldiers killed in battle, I realized that they were my age and I decided to act. With the approval of my family, I enlisted this past March through Netzach Yehuda so that I could continue my learning and daven with a minyan three times a day.”