IDF Soldiers in Hebron Find A Home With Chabad

David Wilder ,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
David Wilder
David Wilder was born in New Jersey in 1954, and graduated from Case Western Reserve University in 1976. He has been in Israel for over forty years. For over twenty years David Wilder worked with the Jewish Community of Hebron as English spokesman for the community, granting newspaper, television and radio interviews internationally. He has written hundreds of articles, appearing on Arutz Sheva, the Jerusalem Post and other publications. David is presently the Exec. Director of Eretz.Org. He conducts tours of Hebron's Jewish Community and meets with diverse groups, lecturing and answering questions. He occasionally travels abroad, speaking at various functions. He published, in English and Hebrew, Breaking the Lies, a booklet dealing with numerous issues concerning Hebron and Judea and Samaria. Additionally, David has published a number of ebooks of photographs and articles, available on Amazon or via David Wilder is married to Ora, a 'Sabra,' for 38...

Written by Zalman Nelson

When they’re not monitoring Hebron’s network of anti-terrorist security cameras and gathering intelligence, female soldiers of the (IDF) stationed here love to hang out with Batsheva Cohen. The dynamic  Chabad representative bakes challah with the soldiers, explores questions of Jewish identity, and infuses their tour of duty here with a joyfully Jewish experience.

“We have an unusual relationship with the local soldiers because we live so close to the base. In most areas the settlement is in one place and the base elsewhere,” Cohen told

The Friday challah baking sessions started after the IDF women were transferred to another Hebron base too far to walk on Shabbat to participate in meals. Cohen arranged with the base commander to pick up the women twice monthly for Jewish programming. Their time together includes challah baking, explanations of Jewish laws unique to women, and upcoming holidays.

“We baked customary key-shaped challah bread for the first Shabbat after Passover which I later delivered to them along with wine,” said Cohen. “They all thanked me with their backs turned because they’re not allowed to take their eyes of the monitor screens while on duty.”

Cohen, whose home becomes a magnet for tens of soldiers every Friday night, hosted 40 IDF women on  Shavuot, who helped her prepare a full dairy meal. During the meal, they played a holiday trivia contest to learn more about Shavuot.

“We’re always looking for opportunities to engage with the local soldiers, to reach out to them,” said Cohen who hosted the entire battalion, commander included, of the base closest to the center, on a recent Shabbat.  “They army is always looking for ways to save money. I told the commander, why not send the cook home for Shabbat and come to us.”

That Shabbat, 68 soldiers joined 20 other visitors to Hebron around the table at the Chabad center. Batsheva’s husband, Danny, leads the Shabbat dinner with lively conversation, a much needed inspiration for the soldiers.

Hebron is the largest city in the West Bank with 100,000 Palestinians and over 800 Israelis. Home to the famous Cave of the Patriarchs, it is regarded as one of Israel’s Four Holy Cities and lies 20 miles south of Jerusalem.