(photo credit: courtesy)
Last summer, an Israeli-American couple opened a free residence for lone
soldiers in Kfar Yavetz, a religious moshav in the Sharon.
Richman explains that the idea for Beit Richman Lahayal (Richman Home for
Soldiers) came to her in November 2009. She was watching a TV report
about the lack of affordable, appropriate accommodation for soldiers from abroad
or from estranged haredi families.
She and her husband, Stan, decided to
turn a villa they owned on Kfar Yavetz into a home base for Shabbat-observant
male soldiers in keeping with the atmosphere of the moshav.
It took a few
months to furnish and decorate the residence and to iron out details with IDF
and moshav officials. The first three residents moved in last July, and now 10
of the 12 spots in the house are occupied.
“When I’m determined to do
something, I find a way,” says Bat-Sheva Richman, 58, who grew up as one of
eight sisters in Rosh Ha’ayin and returned here 20 years ago with Stan, a native
of Sharon, Massachusetts. Not having done military service herself, she was
seeking an alternative way to give back her country now that her four children
Though many foreign lone soldiers are billeted on kibbutzim
and others find roommates or “adoptive” families, Richman discovered that “some
of them aren’t happy, and it’s hard for them to afford food and
utilities.” She took in “C” as soon as she had a mattress for him to
sleep on. Like three of the other men, C is a fighter in the Netzah Yehuda
battalion for haredi men. His parents and neighbors are disapproving of his
choice to join the army, so he spent 49 straight days on base until the
battalion’s social service officer directed him to Beit Richman.
current residents are lone soldiers from English-speaking countries, some of
them referred through Nefesh B’Nefesh. Two “wonderful, sweet” Australians are
among the newest residents, says Richman. “They love having a group of soldiers
to eat, laugh and sing with on Shabbat,” she says.
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Eti Navon, one of
Richman’s sisters, had formerly managed a children’s residence and now oversees
day-to-day operations. When the soldiers arrive on Thursday night, they know
they will wake up the next morning to find Navon cooking and baking, ready for a
“I contact each one every week to see how they are doing and to
find out if they’re coming for Shabbat,” says Navon. “I come on Friday to sit
and talk with them over coffee and cake, sometimes with my husband, and I
arrange everything for Shabbat for them.”
The Richmans often host lone
soldiers for holiday meals and parties in their Jerusalem home, too. Six Beit
Richman residents joined them recently for the Purim meal.
They now are
seeking donors to help them open additional sites for nonreligious lone male
soldiers and for female lone soldiers.www.beitrichman.org
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