Haredi soldiers (illustrative)
Haredi soldiers (illustrative)Flash 90

With communal prayer (in a minyan, or quorum of ten men) forbidden throughout the country, several creative solutions have been made recently, and now another one has surfaced, at the initiative of Rabbi Shmuel Schwartz.

Rabbi Schwartz’s mother recently passed away and due to the Health Ministry’s guidelines, he was unable to say Kaddish (the mourner's prayer) for her, which caused him great distress. He confided his feelings to his son, a haredi paratrooper in the Hetz brigade, and his son suggested that he could say Kaddish for his grandmother in the on-base minyan.

Soldiers in the Hetz brigade, like other haredi soldiers in Tomer (Givati), Maginei Hanegev (Air Force), and Netzach Yehuda (Nachal) are some of the only Jews permitted to pray in a minyan at the current time, as they have been confined to their bases for over a month now, with no contact with anyone from the outside for over two weeks already.

“[My son’s idea] revitalized my soul,” said Rabbi Schwartz, and he then realized that the idea could be applicable to many more people too. Director of Netzach Yehuda Yossi Levi was approached, and the rabbis of Netzach Yehuda then decided to initiate the project, which offers Jews from Israel and around the world the chance to send them the names of their loved ones who have passed away from coronavirus, and the haredi soldiers will say Kaddish in their stead.

“We have already received hundreds of emotional requests since we began the initiative,” said Levi. “We hope that this will be a comfort to the many families who have lost their loved ones during this difficult period.”

Major General Nitai Okshi of Netzach Yehuda added that, “For us, this is a national mission, and I am proud to be part of it.”