The Passaic community takes great pride in their young men who have served proudly and courageously in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Enlisting after spending their gap years at various yeshivot, these young men were determined to join their Israeli counterparts who automatically serve their country. Fortunately for these young men from Passaic and its environs, as well as a growing core of Israeli Haredi young men who opt to serve in the military, the Nahal Haredi battalion of the IDF was founded 18 years ago and has since served over 10,000 young men who benefit from the Torah atmosphere that the organization provides for them throughout their service.
Rabbi Tzvi Klebanow, president of Friends of Nahal Haredi, who has been with the organization for most of its history, shared, “The Nahal Haredi environment in the IDF allows Haredi young men to perform combat duty without compromising their religious way of life. From separate barracks, ample time for davening, scrupulously kosher provisions and, most importantly, providing ongoing chizuk, Nahal Haredi enables these young men to maintain their standards of observance throughout their service. Over 30 rebbeim travel to more than 20 bases throughout the country to provide chizuk and counseling to Nahal Haredi units.”
Support continues outside the bases in the form of housing for lone soldiers from abroad and locals who cannot return to their Haredi communities while serving. Additional services include psychological counseling while on active duty, which continues even after their service and is enhanced by vocational training to help with positive entry into the workforce. Financial assistance for studies, and even weddings and setting up households, is also provided. The two sites of Nahal Haredi headquarters in Yerushalayim have hosted festive simcha celebrations for veterans of Nahal Haredi.
Evelyn Weinberger, stateside liaison for Nahal Haredi, is very proud of the accomplishments of Nahal Haredi to date. She is particularly excited by the recent dedication of the Miller Counseling Center on Rehov Bezalel, established in memory of Joshua Miller by his wife, Sherry, and family after losing their husband and father to ALS three years ago. Supporters of Nahal Haredi before his demise, the Millers’ appreciation of the services provided to religious chayalim was affirmed through the dedication of the attractive counseling center.
The Passaic Shabbat honoring the work of Nahal Haredi was lovingly coordinated by the parents of Nahal Haredi commander Avichai Wachsberg. Zisi and Ron Wachsberg are deeply indebted to Nahal Haredi for providing their son and his comrades with a Torah atmosphere throughout his service.
Zisi Wachsberg recounted, “Avichai was blessed with the hospitality of his aunt and uncle, Naomi and Michael Teicher of Hashmonaim, who served as his surrogate parents throughout his service. But during the grueling months of his training and action it was the warmth and support of his peers and the constant inspiration and chizuk of the Nahal Haredi rebbeim that got him through. At Avichai’s wedding this past June to Nikki Goldberg, the ‘chevra’ from Nahal Haredi, of all stripes of Haredi affiliation, danced up a storm for the couple to our emotional outpouring of tears of gratitude. My prayers are that each young man can one day put down his guns and open his sefarim.” Wachsberg will remain as a commander of his Nahal Haredi unit for a few more months, after which he and his new wife will pursue their studies in Israel.
The Passaic Shabbat tribute to Nahal Haredi offers a full schedule of activities and events. Mincha and Kabbalat Shabbat will be held at the Young Israel of Passaic-Clifton. An oneg Shabbat will follow at the home of mara d’atra Rabbi and Rebbetzin Yaakov Glasser. Rabbi Solomon Riback, mara d’atra of Congregation Adas Israel, will host Shabbat morning davening followed by a festive kiddush sponsored by Laura and Kenny Rosen, proud parents of Nahal Haredi lone soldier Sergeant Shlomo Rosen.
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, mara d’atra of Kahal Ahavas Israel, will host an afternoon program with representatives of Nahal Haredi. Mincha and seudah shlishit will be held at the Young Israel of Passaic-Clifton.
A Motzei Shabbat melave malka will be held at the home of Stewart and Tamra Ackerman, proud parents of Givati Chayal Moshe Isaac Ackerman. Nahal Haredi veteran Meir Elbom, who served in one of the initial Nahal Haredi units over 17 years ago, will share his experiences while serving in a Haredi combat battalion. As a productive religious “veteran” of Nahal Haredi, Elbom will share his personal saga as well as the social and economic impact being made by Nahal Haredi veterans in Israeli society.
The entire community is cordially invited to participate in all or several of the Shabbat activities in support of Nahal Haredi. Please check the ad in this issue of The Jewish Link for specific hours and locations.
To learn more about Nahal Haredi, please visit www.nahalharedi.org or go to [email protected], tel.972-2-6512987.
For further information about hosting a Nahal Haredi event in your community or other avenues of support for the organization, please contact Evelyn Weinberger at [email protected] or
When in Israel, please visit the Center for Haredi Soldiers and Veterans at 26 Bezalel Street, Jerusalem.
By Pearl Markovitz