Nahal Haredi drafts 2,000th soldier

The IDF's Netzah Yehuda Battalion, also known as Nahal Haredi, will make history on Sunday when it celebrates its 20th consecutive military draft and enlists its 2,000th draftee - Itamar Grilus, an 18-year-old haredi from Jerusalem. "I believe that the best way to defend the land of Israel is by sitting and learning Torah," Grilus said. "But someone who doesn't sit all day and learn needs to contribute in the second and more physical [way.]" Together with over 100 other conscripts, Grilus - who decided to leave his yeshiva to serve in the IDF - is following in the footsteps of his brother, who also served in the battalion. Nahal Haredi officials said the new draft would also mark a 15 percent increase over last year. Grilus, they said, was an example of a new type of haredi who was enlisting in the IDF with the support of his family. "We need to remember that soldiers who enlist in the battalion would not be doing military service if were not for Nahal Haredi, which enables soldiers to retain their Torah and haredi lifestyle while doing military service," said Rabbi Zvi Klebanow, director of the Nahal Haredi Organization. Nahal Haredi, which belongs to the Kfir Brigade and is based in the Jordan Valley, was established eight years ago as a single company. Today it is a full battalion - called Netzah Yehuda - with three companies and an elite anti-terrorism squad. Most of the battalion's 650 soldiers are recruited in Israel and come from a haredi or national religious background. After they complete their service, Nahal Haredi helps them complete matriculation and pre-college studies, study for a profession or return to yeshiva.