Not Keif (Fun) for Everyone

Ben Packer,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Ben Packer
Originally from Petersburg, Virginia, Ben Packer moved to Israel in 1999, where he served in the IDF's Givati Brigade in the Gaza Strip. Ben served as a Rabbi on campus at Univ. of North Carolina and at Duke Univ. Ben now serves as Director of the Jerusalem Heritage House ( and Co-Director of Young Jewish Conservatives ( He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife and 6 children....

"For Hashem, Your G-d, walks in the midst of your camp to rescue you and to deliver your enemies before you; so your camp shall be holy..."    (Parshas Ki Seitzei - 23:15) 

I recently read and was VERY disturbed by an article on this very site. I would ignore it as a one-time lapse of judgement, but I think there is a serious lacking here among many in the religious community that needs to addressed. 

The article in question was about the recent "fun day" for "lone soldiers" in the IDF. First of all, no "religious" publication should be endorsing an event that is totally dedicated to promiscuity. But in some way, that is not even my major problem with this. The article says that "all units" were involved. HOW ON EARTH COULD THAT BE POSSIBLE?!!!! How could any religious soldier participate in this event? And for goodness sake, ITS ELUL!!! 

When I was a "lone soldier" in the army many years ago (15), we also had a "fun day" for "lone soldiers". It sounds like it was remarkably similar to this "unique" event, pool party included. Of course everyone knew that we, as religious soldiers, could not attend the pool party, but they expected us to attend the opening song and dance show with young ladies in scantily-clad outfits. Not realizing that this is what they had planned, I went into the hall and sat down for what I thought would be some ceremonial speeches. Immediately, the singing and dancing started. So, of course, I left. I was told that I had to go back in - it was required. So I went back in, but put a book of Mishnayos in front of my face. I was then told that it was "disrespectful" and not allowed. I agreed and got up to leave. I was told that I had to sit down. I just walked out. 

Fortunately, the religious "lone soldiers" were specifically not invited to the recent "fun day", unlike the article suggests. So I guess there has been some progress in 15 years. 

Its time that folks stop sugar-coating things that go on in the army. There is a war of different religions very similar to Chanukah. If the religious community won't protest the unfair treatment of religious soldiers, then who will? Arutz Sheva and the greater religious community can and should do better. (This is all without to speak about FIDF and these other groups "helping" "lone soldiers")

Shabbat Shalom,

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem