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Jul 15, 2013

The New Lone Soldier

My friend Mark Korman has come up with a great idea. In light of the recent attacks on Haredi soldiers by other Haredim, Mark has suggested it is time to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. If we want Haredim to join the army, we have to give them our full support. Mark suggests that Haredi soldiers who sign upf ro the army be given the status, and all the benefits, of a Hayal Boded - a lone soldier.

We have all heard so many stories of Haredi soldiers who were disowned by their families due to joining the army. They join the army, they lose their family, they get harassed in the streets by fellow members of their own community and they, many of them at least, have no real support system.

In Mark's words:
... I would like to offer possible solutions that we, which is a very broad ‘we’, can provide for this phenomenon in general, and to the soldiers in particular who suffer at the hands (and mouths) of their very own just for serving their own country.
For years, an overwhelming majority of Zionists – religious and secular alike – have been calling for abolishing, or at the very least, a major overhaul, of the Tal Law, which had, in the most simplest terms, provided for an indefinite exemption from army service for yeshiva students, before it eventually expired in July 2012. We, myself included, were strong and steadfast in our conviction to enlist haredim into army service.
Well now we have a golden opportunity to back up our own battle cries with real action. After hearing about the vile treatment these soldiers are receiving in their communities, it behooves us to help in making their lives easier. We should embrace them in our own communities, have them for Shabbat, show them that what they are doing for their country and for their people, matters to us. I believe that these haredi soldiers have reached a decision to serve, and strive to excel, in the Israeli Defense Forces, for a number of reasons, including the realization that they were just not getting anywhere in a Torah-learning-only setting. Such a decision should not be treated lightly because it rocks the core of their very existence in the ultra-orthodox communities.
Not only should we love and welcome these soldiers, and reinforce in them the notion that they are doing the right thing, but we should help make them feel safe and protected from the venomous untruths their ultra-orthodox contemporaries are being spoon fed by their peers, or even worse, their rabbinic leadership. Ironically, this reminds me of the vicious and unfortunate in-fighting between Menachem Begin’s Irgun movement and David Ben Gurion’s Hagana that took place in the backdrop of Israel’s War of Independence. Begin was known to have, deservedly so, taken pride in the fact that he had never encouraged his fellow Irgun members to so much as lift a finger against a fellow Jew. More than that, Begin called for his fighters to surrender themselves in various instances to the Hagana. One of our darkest hours was the well-known Altalena affair, where Ben Gurion ordered an attack on the Altalena cargo ship on the grounds that it was illegally smuggling weapons into Israel specifically for Begin’s Irgun (as opposed to the more broad general war efforts of the IDF/government). We are now being faced with a new similar threat to Yiddishkeit. And we have the chance to right this tragic wrong of sinat chinam – baseless hatred, which we should counter with unabashed warmth and acceptance.
On a practical matter I propose that we take it one step further. As a matter of government and military policy, these soldiers should be afforded those same rights and privileges granted to lone soldiers, whom we rightfully embrace. They should be entitled to housing, education, stipends which they have worked hard for and actually deserve. They should be set up in communities such as those where other lone soldiers are embraced. You get the idea. With Tisha B’av right around the corner, now is as good a time as any to reflect on the ties that bind, and not the man-made boundaries that divide. In this instance, we most definitely should be our brother’s keeper.
I fully support this idea. How do we present this to the powers that make such decisions?

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  1. Rafi,

    Already in place. A haredi who enlists and is disowned receives lone soldier benefits.

    The army visits the home to see if this is in fact the case then acts accordingly.

  2. interesting. didnt know that. thanks


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