Arutz Sheva visited the headquarters of the Shachar Kachol (Blue Dawn) IDF program for hareidi soldiers.
Shachar Kachol, created about six years ago, is aimed at finding a solution for hareidi-religious men who want to join the army while acquiring some technical and mechanical skills.
Staff Officer Menachem Goldstein emphasized that the program has been designed to fit the way of life of a hareidi person.
“What’s very important about this program is that we’re always focused on balancing the army lifestyle and keeping the hareidi background,” he said, adding that Torah study and prayer time are a key part of the program.
“We make sure that the food is strictly kosher, and the soldiers know that there is a balance between the army and a hareidi lifestyle,” said Goldstein. “So far, it’s been working very well.”
According to Private Menachem Hershkowitz, who serves as part of the Shachar Kachol program, “As far as our lifestyle is concerned, there is nothing we do here that contradicts it.”
He added, “I think Shachar Kachol is a very good fit for the hareidi-religious public, and anyone who really wants to can later integrate into the job market. I’m studying a profession [while serving].”
Hershkowitz said his family was very happy to see him enlist in the army. “My father was very happy that I enlisted. He also served in the army and he had no problem with me enlisting. Same goes for my mother. I live in Bnei Brak and every day I go out into the street and onto the bus wearing my uniform and there’s no problem with it. I’m very happy about it.”
He added that he believes it would be impossible to force all hareidim to enlist, saying the desire to enlist must come from within the hareidi public.
“If they force them to enlist, nothing good will come out of it, because the hareidi public won’t go by force,” said Hershkowitz.
Lieutenant Haim Dikman, a hareidi soldier who serves in the Israeli Air Force’s Computer Unit, said that he believes “there is room for any hareidi” in the army.
“People enlist and it’s good for both sides,” he said. “The State benefits from it and so do those who enlist. We have a 90% success rate of integrating soldiers in the work force after their army service. The integration is amazing and I think that Shachar Kachol achieves the goals it is meant to achieve.”