Haredi Soldiers 311.
(photo credit: YAAKOV KATZ)
The IDF completed on Thursday the first-ever training of haredi soldiers who
will now begin to fill the function of “conditions of service” non-commissioned
officers (NCOs) in haredi units.
Part of a standard military unit is the
presence of a soldier, usually female, who is trained to fill a function similar
to that of a social worker.
They deal with a variety of welfare-related
issues, such as enabling soldiers to take leaves of absence to work and support
their families or referring those in need to mental care professionals; but they
also can lend a sympathetic ear and shoulder when necessary.
of such encounters between a soldier and NCOs, conducted in privacy and in many
cases personally revealing, would prevent a haredi soldier from being able to
have such an exchange with a female soldier.
Up to this point, haredi
soldiers from within the two units involved – the air force’s Blue Dawn program,
which trains haredi men as airplane mechanics and technicians, and the Netzah
Yehuda Battalion – formerly known as Nahal Haredi – have served in such
functions without any formal training.
“But they didn’t have the
professional tools to carry out the sensitive task,” a senior officer from the
IDF’s Manpower Division told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
So the army
decided to train 15 haredi soldiers already serving in the IDF to be
professional “conditions of service” NCOs, in a six-week course taught by men
only that ended on Thursday.
“These NCOs understand the needs of the
haredi soldiers and their frames of reference, and can provide the soldiers with
the help they need,” the officer said.
The participants in the course,
which was held according to the army’s standards, achieved excellent grades and
were very satisfied with the training they received, as well as with the new
function they were about to begin filling, the officer continued. He said that
another such course would probably take place in three or four
The idea of training haredi soldiers for the position is part of
the military’s general attempt to adapt to the sensitivities and needs of the
ultra-Orthodox population that wishes to enlist, the officer said. This attitude
is part of what is constantly raising the numbers of haredim in the
“The army doesn’t want to turn them into something they are not. But
it is able to accommodate itself to the haredi lifestyle,” he said.
that is the secret to the change in their attitude to the army.”