Friday, June 30, 2017


The Israeli Orthodox Paratroopers


Yesterday I had the opportunity to be in Jerusalem, at the Ammunition Hill war memorial site, to see the investment of the newly trained battalions of Tzanchanim – the Israeli Paratroopers.  Tzanchanim is one of Israel’s elite infantry brigades…

Service in the Paratroopers is voluntary and requires passing an intense two-day selection process that includes tests of physical fitness as well as emotional preparedness, leadership skills and the ability to cooperate in a group. Each year the brigade receives five times more applicants than it can accept. Paratrooper recruits go through a 7 12-month arduous training period that includes fitness training, Krav Maga training, harsh combat skills, specializing in a wide range of weapons, field craft, long marches with heavy equipment, weeks of survival training including navigation and camouflage, helicopter training, jump training, collaboration with other units, and urban warfare. More than a quarter of recruits drop out. At the end of the course, recruits must complete a "Beret March", and march 90 kilometers in full combat gear through all weather extremes”

The Paratroopers are also known as those who retook the Old City of Jerusalem during the 6 day war.

What was different about this particular investment (“teches kumta – giving of the beret”) was the deployment of the first (Jewish) ultra-orthodox paratrooper battalion.  The ultra-orthodox battalion got no reduction in requirements or changes to training…just a little better kosher food supervision and slightly longer person breaks to allow for prayer and Torah learning times.  They spent just as much time in the field, jumping out of planes, sleeping in holes, hiking mountains and deserts, and blowing stuff up as every other battalion.

So the normally secular crowd of parents and family attending was peppered with black hats, long beards, yalmukes, and nervous mothers with shaitels and tichels.

The next time you hear about the ultra-orthodox avoiding the army, tell the speaker to drop the B.S. or the charedi paratroopers just might come and kick some butt.

These young men will be putting their lives on the line starting the week after next, when they deploy to the Gaza border for the protection of the citizens of Israel for the next 5 months…after which they will move to Lebanon border.

Why was I there?  My youngest son.  In his yeshiva in Kiryat Malachi a group of 4 boys were given the challenge of making it into the paratroopers by a rebbe (yeshiva teacher) who had been a paratrooper himself (after being a challenge themselves).  He trained them for 6 months, including 10km hikes with sandbags on their backs and running with a stretcher of sandbags between them.  All 4 were successful in entering… and all 4 chose to go into the regular battalions (they didn’t want any breaks, thinking that the charedi battalion would get any…they didn’t).

While I was there I also met a famous charedi rabbi editor of a well known ultra-orthodox Torah newsletter who has a little brother in one of the battalions, and the charedi head of Zaka – the Israeli body recovery volunteer organization, who’s son was there.

The next generation is standing up, and as much as the FAKE NEWS wants to harp about groups of 30 rabble rousers protesting and some outlandish statements by some (usually non-leadership) charedi rabbis, these young men are taking on the mitzvah of protecting Eretz Yisroel and Klal Yisroel.  May Hashem watch over them, protect them, and give them success in their mission.


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