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Maverick Hassidic Singer Lipa Schmeltzer Serenades Haredi Troops

Hassidic music sensation praises Nahal Haredi soldiers for showing how 'you can be a good Jew, and be in the army'.
By Ari Soffer
First Publish: 9/3/2014, 9:54 AM

Hassidic music sensation Lipa Schmeltzer paid a visit to IDF soldiers of the Netzah Yehuda (formerly Nahal Haredi) battalion, to perform for soldiers as a show of solidarity.

American musician Schmeltzer is considered something of a maverick; he hails from the deeply conservative Skver hassidic sect, and has faced criticism form some within his community for embracing "modern" styles of music.

But he isn't phased, and says he identifies with the soldiers of "Nahal Haredi" - many of whom come from haredi homes and communities and have faced ostracism for joining the IDF.

"Nahal Haredi puts up two fights. The regular soldier puts up the fight at the front," but knows that when he returns home he will be embraced for defending his county, he said.

In contrast, he notes "Nahal Haredi has to put up a fight at the front, but also has to put up a fight with people who think that shomrei Torah umitzvot (observant Jews) can't join the army," referring to elements within the haredi community who are openly hostile towards haredim who serve in the IDF.

"They're doing an amazing job by showing that you can be a good Jew... and be in the army, and that's a tremendous accomplishment."

Schmeltzer explained that he always performs for Nahal Haredi whenever he visits Israel, "not to [visit] Nahal Haredi, I won't feel fulfilled - this is the icing on the cake."