“The Rabbaim are the ema and abba (mother and father) of the chayalim (soldiers),” Nahal Haredi CEO Rabbi Tzvi Klebanow, on a fund-raising visit to the Five Towns, told the Jewish Star this week.
He and IDF Sergeant Nesanel Silverman, formerly of Flatbush, will speak this Shabbat before musaf (about 10:15 am) at Congregation Aish Kodesh in Woodmere; at seudah shlishit after the 7:30 pm mincha at Young Israel of Lawrence Cedarhurst, and motzai Shabbat at 9:45 pm at the home of Anne and Shelly Golombeck, parents of a Nahal Haredi soldier, at 6 Washington Ave. S. in Lawrence.
The Netzah Yehuda Battalion, also known as Nahal Haredi, is a battalion in the Kfir Brigade in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and was created to accommodate the needs of religious Israelis to serve in the IDF in a strictly orthodox environment. More than 6,000 have gone through the program.
A group of haredi rabbis led by Rabbi Yitzhak Bar Chaim, a chavruta of Klebanow, held discussions with the IDF over a year and a half and founded the battalion in 1999. It started with 30 soldiers and has now grown to 1,400 men, including those in training, educational programs and the actual battalion.
The soldiers train in NH for seven months and then enter different branches, some in surveillance activities, snipers, mortars, and providing security at air force bases.
Silverman, 25, said he returned to the U.S. to represent NH and that his time in NH has been an “amazing experience” — seeing more than a few Molotov cocktails and getting shot at a few times.
Some of NH’s unique services are financed by donations, including shiurim by rabbanim who visit the bases, a hareidi standard of kashrut, minyan three times a day during training, and all-male instructors and programs.
Silverman lauded the chizuk and daily shiurum of the affiliated rabbis, the ruach (spirit) of Shabbat where everyone is shomer Shabbat, the beautiful singing, davening, Kiddush and divrei Torah. He recounted that everyone always got together for minyanim regardless of the rain and cold.