Dozens of haredim join IAF as engineering equipment operators

The mechanical engineering route for haredim to join the army has existed for 11 years, but this group is the largest yet and signals a growing trend of integrating the ultra-Orthodox into the IDF.

 A haredi soldier is seen celebrating with family as he joins the Israeli Air Force. (photo credit: Roei Kor)
A haredi soldier is seen celebrating with family as he joins the Israeli Air Force.
(photo credit: Roei Kor)

Dozens of haredi IDF soldiers celebrated this week as they joined the Israeli Air Force as part of one of the largest ever efforts of integrating haredim into the IAF.

The soldiers are the largest group of haredi mechanical engineer equipment operators to join the IAF, to the exuberance and pride of their families.

The event was attended by IAF Personnel Directorate Brig.-Gen. Itamar Raichel, IAF haredi division chief Yossi Rivkin and the rabbis of Netzah Yehuda, the organization that helps haredim integrate into the IDF.

Raichel presented certificates of appreciation to Rivkin and Netzah Yehuda Rabbi Yitzhak Deutsch thanking them for their support and efforts.

Though the mechanical engineering route for haredim to join the army has existed for 11 years, this year's group is the largest yet and signals a growing trend of integrating Israel's ultra-Orthodox community into military service.

A rabbi from Netzah Yehuda is seen receiving a certificate of appreciation from the IAF. (credit: Roei Kor)A rabbi from Netzah Yehuda is seen receiving a certificate of appreciation from the IAF. (credit: Roei Kor)

This program also allows the young haredi soldiers to take life into their own hands, something one new recruit reflected on.

"I was never mainstream, I dropped out of school and left home at the age of 13," Pvt. Yitzhak said. 

"At first it was clear to me that I would not enlist in the army, but then I got to pre-military preparatory school, the first framework which I thrived at, social workers and friends encouraged me to enlist."

His decision was praised by his family.

"My family is happy that I enlisted, because it means I will not be on the street," he explained. 

"I believe in the haredi way of life and think it is worthwhile to study Torah in a yeshiva. But I am not studying anymore, and in such cases I think it is necessary to enlist."