Hesder student-soldiers
Hesder student-soldiersIsrael news photo

The semi-annual enlistment of combat soldiers in the IDF began this week with a record number of Hesder yeshiva soldiers. Soldiers in the Hesder arrangement combine approximately 18 months of combat service with 42 months of yeshiva study in a five-year program.

Some 850 Hesder students are enlisting in the IDF this month – the most ever, and 30 more than last year at this time. Among them, nearly three-quarters will serve in combat positions. Another 650 will enlist in the IDF later this year, for a total increase of 11 percent over last year.

Some 250 Hesder-niks will serve in the Golani, Givati and Kfir infantry brigades. Another 40 have enlisted in Field Intelligence, 90 in the Paratroopers, 40 in Combat Engineering, 180 in the armored and artillery corps, and 40 in Nachal.

In addition, 210 soldiers from Hesder yeshivot will enlist in non-combat units, such as the rabbinate, transport, intelligence, and the like.

For the first time, the yeshiva soldiers are not being drafted separately, but rather together with their units. In the Givati Brigade, for instance, there will be two 50-soldier platoons of Hesder students – one exclusively Hesder, and the other together with non-yeshiva soldiers.

Rabbi Chaim Druckman, Dean of Yeshivat Ohr Etzion near Ashkelon and a member of the Board of the Union of Hesder Yeshivot, arrived on Monday at the IDF Induction Center (known as the Bakum) in Tel HaShomer to bless the new soldiers and wish them good luck. “May G-d watch over your going and coming, go in peace and return in peace,” he told them.

Hesder Union Director Eitan Ozeri, also on hand at the Bakum, said, “The Hesder students enlist with great motivation to serve the State of Israel and defend its citizens’ security. The increase in the number of soldiers is proof that teaching the integration of Torah study with meaningful army service leads to heightened motivation and the ability to fulfill the IDF’s missions. The Hesder yeshivot will continue to stand at the forefront of security operations together with their comrades in arms.”