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Audio: More than just a batallion: The Nachal Chareidi

Interview with Rabbi Tzvi Klebanow, a founder of Nachal Charedi the religious, orthodox IDF unit.
4/6/2011, 8:05 AM

A7 Radio's "Welcome to the Tribe" with Gabriella Licsko
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The main complaints of the seculars against the chareidi public are: They don`t go to the army, they live on government benefits, and they seemingly don't work as much. The Israeli charedi public's ideal of a soldier, is a soldier of Hashem. This soldier is a full time Torah learner, dedicated to his life of studies. But not everybody is a Torah scholar. What happens with them? There are young men who want to be soldiers of Hashem in the battlefield as well. Is it acceptable in their communities? Does the army accept them? If they want to fight on two fronts, where can they go? 
The Nachal Chareidi batallion or its official name: Netzach Yehuda, is one of the biggest success stories of modern day Israel.Why? Because it was established in 1999 with only 30 soldiers, In 2010 had more than 800 fighters. It offers the opportunity for charedi youth to serve in the army without compromising their religious level and prepares them for the matriculation exam and the job market. It can bridge the social gap between the secular and chareidi public.
Chareidi fighting soldiers? Yes, today it is not unusual anymore. And that's just the beginning. The soldiers wear camouflage berets and are involved in anti-terrorist missions. The the battalion today is a full member of the Kfir unit.
Today's guest is Rabbi Tzvi Klebanow, one of the founders and head of Nachal Chareidi. In this interview he will share with us the fascinating story of the batallion. How it began, how it seemed to be mission impossible, how a couple of dedicated rabbis found General Yehuda Duvdevani, who embraced and supported the idea of a charedi army unit. We will get these answers a lot of questions as well
For example:
What is the opinion of secular army officers about Nachal Chareidi?
How they can help "off the derech " kids finding their way back to religious observance? 
What makes a batallion a chareidi batallion?
Which non-chareidi soldiers choose to serve in the batallion?
What is the reaction of the parents?
How succesful are they in finding jobs?
What type of religious women do the soldiers marry?
Which rabbis ideologically support Nachal Chareidi?

Gabriella Licsko is a lecturer on Jewish history and society focusing on different religious communities. She leads tours of different neighborhoods in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as well as tours across the country. Gabriella holds a bachelor's degree in Culture Studies and a master's degree in Jewish Studies and made aliyah from Hungary in 2007. She hosts the Welcome to the Tribe podcast every Tuesday from 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. on Israel National Radio.
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