Shuki Salzman
Shuki SalzmanCourtesy

Shuki Salzman, a 31-year-old man from Manchester in Britain, served in the Haredi battalion Netzach Yehuda 21 years ago as a lone soldier, after hearing about the murder of the Fogel family.

After his service, he returned to his home in Britain and was removed from reserve duty. Salzman married a Jewish woman from Switzerland and they had two children. Over the years, Salzman felt regret that he never went to Israel for reserve duty. With his wife’s encouragement, approximately three weeks before October 7th, he wrote to the reservist hotline and was told that the matter would be investigated and that the IDF would get back to him.

“On October 7th, we began to hear of the massacre in Israel. We had another day of the holiday, and the news was very painful,” he recounted. As soon as the holiday was over, he sent another letter stating that his luggage was packed and that he wanted to come and help. He told the IDF that he was a combat soldier and ready to do his part, but was told that he was exempt from reserve service.

He did not give up and instead reached out to any contacts he knew of to help him be enlisted in a reservist position. After months of effort, he finally was notified that he could report for reserve duty.

While trying to find the cost of a flight to Israel, he was surprised to learn that the cost of a flight was two thousand dollars. His solution was to take a flight first to Switzerland, then a train to Hungary, then to Austria, and only then board another flight to Israel. The trip between the five countries took thirty-six sleepless hours.

Since December, Salzman has been serving in the Judea Brigade, and during an off-duty period over the weekend, he found himself unsure where to go. A comrade told him about a hostel opened a few days previously to benefit lone soldiers.

“During my first off-duty period, I was alone, and did not really have anywhere to go, but I also did not want to stay on the base alone while the rest of my platoon was leaving. At the Beit Matan hostel, I was surrounded by amazing people, and for a moment, I felt like I was at home - there was food, laundry, hot showers, and a feeling that I had almost forgotten.