Golani Brigade Goes Religious

Starting in the summer of 2010, six of top eight commanders in infantry brigade will wear a kippah, including its top officer Col. Ofek Buchris.

Gil Ronen , | updated: 8:31 PM

Golani flag in the Golani Run, 2009
Golani flag in the Golani Run, 2009
Israel news photo: Flash 90

As of the summer of 2010, the IDF's Golani Brigade – one of the leading infantry brigades – will have a clear majority of commanders who are Torah-observant, daily paper Yisrael Hayom reported. This is the first time that a brigade in the IDF is led by such a clearly religious cadre, and it marks the growing centrality of religious soldiers in the IDF.

The most senior kippah-donning officer will be the Brigade Commander, Col. Ofek Buchris, who is a graduate of Ateret Kohanim Yeshiva. He will be replacing Col. Avi Peled.

Buchris's intended deputy, Lt.-Col. Dudi Obermann, who was Aide-de-Camp to the IDF Chief of Staff until recently, is also a kippah-wearer. The commander of Golani's regimental training base will be Lt.-Col. Eyal Asraf, also an Ateret Kohanim graduate. The commander of the 12th Battalion will be Lt.-Col. Udi Ben-Chamo, a graduate of Eli Yeshiva and son-in-law of Rabbi Eli Sadan, an influential religious-Zionist rabbi.

Additional religious appointments will be 51st Battalion Commander Lt.-Col. Shai Kelfer, a graduate of Shavei Hevron Yeshiva, and Lt.-Col. Avinoam Stolovich, a graduate of Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva, who has already been appointed as the commander of the 13th Battalion. 

The only top positions that will not be held by openly religious Jews will be the commander of the elite Egoz unit and the commander of the Reconnaissance Battalion.

The kippahs worn by all of these commanders are of the knit variety favored by the religious-Zionists.

In other infantry brigades, too, the religious are “taking over”: planned appointments in Givati include religious officers who will serve as Shaked Battalion Commander, Commander of the Regimental Training Base, Commander of the Reconnaissance Battalion and at least four of the senior officers in the Kfir Regiment.

"The religious education places great emphasis on love of the people and the land, and this makes itself apparent in volunteerism for the combat units,” a military source told Yisrael Hayom, adding: “I do not know if this should be seen as a badge of honor for the religious sector or a badge of shame for the secular sector.”