IDF Plays Matchmaker to Hareidi Soldiers
As part of an initiative to help hareidi-religious soldiers integrate their religious practices with their IDF service, the army is working with a group of rabbis to provide a professional matchmaker for soldiers in the Netzach Yehuda battalion – a primarily hareidi-religious battalion that has been given the nickname “Nachal hareidi.”
The matchmaker deals with the hareidi-religious community, and helps soldiers find young women who share their religious outlook. She begins her work as soldiers near the end of their service.
Asher Pardi, who deals with the hareidi-religious community in the IDF, explained the initiative, “It's an important service in particular due to the misunderstanding in the hareidi community,” he said. “If they would go to other [hareidi] matchmakers, it could very well be that they would be seen as undesirable because they were in the army.”
Pardi spoke to the IDF website about Netzach Yehuda and efforts to integrate hareidi soldiers without forcing them to compromise on their religious practice. He also described a new program that allows hareidi men who are unable to serve in combat to provide combat support in the Sirkin base, where kosher dietary laws are strictly kept and soldiers can take part in daily prayers and Torah study.
The IDF does not attempt to recruit hareidi men who are engaged in full-time Torah study, Pardi explained. “First and foremost, we want hareidi youth to learn Torah,” he said. “We encourage the youth in yeshiva to keep learning.”
However, he said, “today there are many youth who do not do well [in yeshiva]. They drop out of yeshiva, and have nowhere to go. For them, a religious army framework can be their salvation.” Netzach Yehuda takes hareidi dropouts and “sets them straight, both as hareidi men and as human beings," he stated.
The IDF encourages yeshiva dropouts to enlist by helping them to meet with hareidi-religious soldiers, who explain that it is possible to maintain a hareidi lifestyle in the army, he said.