The Riverdale community takes great pride in the young men who have served proudly and courageously in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Among them are American young men who enlisted after spending their gap years at various yeshivot in Israel. These individuals are determined to join their Israeli counterparts who automatically serve their country. Fortunately for these men from communities across the U.S., as well as a growing core of Israeli haredi young adults who opt to serve in the military, the Nahal Haredi battalion of the IDF was founded 18 years ago. Since its inception, Nahal Haredi has served over 10,000 young men who benefit from the Torah atmosphere that the organization provides throughout their service.
In celebration of the work of Nahal Haredi, aka Netzach Yehuda, three shuls in the Riverdale community will be hosting programs dedicated to Nahal Haredi during the Shabbat of Parshat Vayeishev, December 8-9.
Rabbi Yitz and Shoshana Genack, rabbi and rebbetzin of the Riverdale Jewish Center, will initiate the shabbaton by inviting the community to their home for an oneg Shabbat of “song and inspiration.” In attendance will be Rabbi Tzvi Klebanow, founder of Nahal Haredi, as well as veteran Meir Elbom, who will share the history and vision of the organization. The community is also invited to attend Kabbalat Shabbat at the Riverdale Jewish Center.
On Shabbat morning, Rabbi Klebenow and Elbom will join the community at the Young Israel of Riverdale to share further insights into the achievements of Nahal Haredi and its impact on the lives of its over 10,000 veterans to date. Later, join the Riverdale Minyan for Mincha and hear the story of a Chassidic veteran whose life’s direction was irrevocably changed through the intervention of Nahal Haredi. Finally, join the community for a melave malka/parlor meeting at the home of Leora and Michael Stein. The program will feature a film presentation about how veterans of Nahal Haredi are “building bridges in Israeli society” and “sharing the burden” of moving the country forward through the work force. Attendees will learn how they can impact a “lonely” haredi soldier as well as a “lone” soldier’s life.
Rabbi Klebanow, president of Friends of Nahal Haredi, shared, “The Nahal Haredi environment in the IDF allows haredi young men to perform combat duty without compromising their religious way of life. From separate barracks, ample time for davening, scrupulously kosher provisions and, most importantly, ongoing chizuk, Nahal Haredi enables these young men to maintain their standards of observance throughout their service. Over 30 rebbeim travel to more than 20 bases throughout the country to provide chizuk and counseling to Nahal Haredi units.”
Support continues outside the bases in the form of housing for lone soldiers from abroad and locals who cannot return to their haredi communities while serving. Additional services include psychological counseling while on active duty, which continues even after their service ends and is enhanced by vocational training to help with positive entry into the workforce. Financial assistance for studies, and even weddings and setting up households, is provided. The two sites of Nahal Haredi headquarters in Yerushalayim have hosted festive simcha celebrations for veterans of Nahal Haredi, such as sheva brachot.
Evelyn Weinberger, stateside liaison for Nahal Haredi, is very proud of the accomplishments of Nahal Haredi to date. She is particularly excited by the latest development in the organization. With over 10,000 veterans of Nahal Haredi out in the workforce, a network is being set up to facilitate the sharing of skills and services of older veterans with those who most recently completed their service. Through help with job placement or by sharing skills, the network will provide support to the veterans who are looking to obtain productive work in the Israeli economic community. In addition, among the veterans of Nahal Haredi are many experienced lawyers who can provide free legal services to recent Nahal Haredi veterans, be it for setting up businesses, purchasing real estate or other matters.
The greater Riverdale community is cordially invited to participate in all or any of the Shabbat activities in support of Nahal Haredi. Please see their ad on page 14 for specific hours and locations.
When in Israel, please visit the Center for Haredi Soldiers and Veterans at 26 Bezalel Street, Jerusalem.
By Pearl Markovitz