JERUSALEM (VINnews) — It is hard to imagine anyone who has sacrificed more for his country than Yehuda HaYisraeli. In 2014, he was a young, happily married man and father of an infant who had completed his studies at the Maale Eliyahu yeshiva in Tel Aviv as well as serving in the crack Rimon army unit. HaYisraeli became a career soldier and was due to start an officer’s course when the Protective Edge campaign started.Join our WhatsApp group
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Yehuda Hayisraeli with daughter before his injury
On August 1st 2014, Yehuda was hit in the head by shrapnel during the campaign, suffering very serious injuries. After he was rushed to hospital, Yehuda spent months in intensive care and over a year in rehabilitation, slowly regaining some of his motor ability as well as speech and cognitive functions. His wife Rivky, who gave birth to their second child weeks after the injury, stayed faithfully by his side, caring for him and trying to rebuild their relationship until in 2017 she realized that it just wouldn’t work and received a divorce from him. Interviewed later, she said that “it wasn’t my Yehuda, the Yehuda that I knew.” She later remarried and has two more children from her second marriage.
Yehuda has persevered in his own way, even running a part of the Jerusalem marathon last year after having being confined to a wheelchair for years. Despite his debilitating injuries, including the loss of an eye, Yehuda still has three dreams: To work, to drive and to marry again.
On Monday his father decided to take him back to his yeshiva in Tel Aviv, a yeshiva which has unfortunately been in the crossfire of secular-religious tensions in a city which has become synonymous with anti-government protests. Thus the timing of Yehuda’s return was not coincidental.
Yehuda with his father in the yeshiva
Maale Eliyahu is a religious Zionist yeshiva and as such its students serve in the army, identify with the state of Israel and perform volunteer work in Tel Aviv, including visiting adjacent Ichilov hospital every week. The yeshiva was founded after the Rabin assassination to try and create a bridge over the chasm developing between secular left-wingers and the national religious camp.
Despite this, when the yeshiva was asked by the Tel Aviv municipality to relocate to a nearby neighborhood and given a large building for its purposes, local secular residents were infuriated and instigated a smear campaign against the “messianic” and “homophobic” yeshiva which they claimed was attempting to influence their children and to change the character of their locale.
The yeshiva’s heads have been desperately trying to rebut the media mudslinging and reiterate their love and respect for all residents of Tel Aviv irrespective of their persuasion. Some secular public figures have also come to their defense.
It is painful that a yeshiva whose graduates like Yehuda have given so much for their country and are so motivated to spread goodwill and make a positive impression should pay the price for the ugly divisions between right and left over judicial reforms.