Soldiers protest expulsion of Jewish families
Soldiers protest expulsion of Jewish familiesIsrael news photo

Young soldier Chaim Yehudah Greenwold has been sent to jail for a third time over his refusal to leave Har Bracha yeshiva. His mother, Rivka Greenwold, spoke to Arutz Sheva's Hebrew-language news service and called on the IDF to put an end to the Har Bracha battle and release her son.

Greenwald enlisted in the IDF under the Hesder program, which allows soldiers to combine active service with Torah studies, with the understanding that his Torah study would take place in Har Bracha. However, Defense Minister Ehud Barak later removed Har Bracha from the list of approved Hesder yeshivas due to the public stance of its dean, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, regarding the expulsion of Jews from their homes; Rabbi Melamed refused to condemn IDF soldiers who protested the expulsion of Jews by the army while in active service.

Rivka Greenwald said her son had been offered a chance to enlist in a different yeshiva, or to leave the hesder program and complete his IDF service in a different track, but that he is sticking to principle. “We respect his decision, and we think he took a very brave step,” she said.

Chaim's commanding officers have shown respect for his principled stand, she said. However, a handful of people have stood in the way of getting Chaim released.

One officer sent Chaim to a committee to apply for a release from IDF service due to conscientious objection, she continued. However, a single member of the committee did not agree to the early release, and instead returned her son to prison.

She called on the IDF to end the matter and release Chaim and others in a similar position from prison. “These boys don't belong in jail. They're the best of the best. Release them from service as conscientious objectors, just put an end to this affair,” she said.

She also called for more support from the religious Zionist community and from other hesder yeshivas. “Perhaps we should learn from the hareidi response to the Emanuel affair about how to support those who are sent to prison,” she said. She was referring to a case in which hareidi-religious Jews held massive rallies in support of members of their community who were sent to jail because of alleged discrimination against Sephardic girls at a school in Samaria.