As Israel is being battered by a potential second wave of coronavirus and an increasingly strict set of associated restrictions, many Israeli civilians, especially in the Home Front Command, which is responsible for managing domestic crises, are being called up to help combat the virus.
Chezi Zecharia, a high school principal of the Modern Orthodox Ohr Torah Stone’s Neve Shmuel High School in the Israeli settlement of Efrat in Gush Etzion, is one of those civilians who heeded the call and returned to service as a Colonel in the Homefront Command, as detailed in a press release Wednesday from the educational institution.
Zecharia, who served for over 25 years in regular and reserve duty in the Paratroopers Brigade, eventually rising to the rank of colonel, was appointed several years to the Home Front Command. Amid the outbreak of the coronavirus in Israel, Zecharia, like many others, were sent around the country to help in the distribution of aid in severely infected areas. For the high school principal, Zecharia was sent to serve as a commander in Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood near Tel Aviv.
“Our role is to work together with the local authorities and relief teams to distribute food, work with local residents and where necessary evacuate them to ‘Corona hotels’,” Zecharia said.
Speaking of the heightened challenge of combating a potential second wave of coronavirus in Israel, Zecharia refers to his traditional role as an educator and the lessons derived from the crisis that can be relayed to his students.
“As educators our responsibility is to always share the deeper meaning in what we do. It’s important that our students see how we are actualizing those messages through real action at this challenging time,” he says. “Part of education is demonstrating what it means to make a better world and I know that lesson is reaching our students even when we’re not physically together in school.”
Commending Zecharia's decision to serve as a commander in Bnei Brak, Rabbi Kenneth Brander, President and Head of the yeshiva within Ohr Torah Stone network, said that “Our students, teachers and administration continue to face a deeply challenging time that often requires them being away from home or work. But we know that the contribution they are making to Israel and the Jewish People through their service is truly a teaching example as impressive as anything they can provide in the classroom,”
Zecharia is among others from the network who have lent their hand in the struggle against coronavirus, which is also includes other staff members from within the educational institution.
“It is truly a testimony to our staff and graduates who are proficient in "safra and seifah" - the sword and the Torah text," notes Rabbi Brander.
He added that "The Jewish people have always risen to challenges and this generation is no different. We are committed to responding effectively with creativity and innovation.”