Lone Israeli Soldier Laid to Rest Among Throngs of Mourners, Heartbreak and Praise

Sergeant Shlomo Zalman RindenowLone Israeli soldier Shlomo Rindenow was laid to rest on Monday in an emotional ceremony attended by hundreds. Many of the attendees had no personal relationship with the Sergeant himself. Rather, they were fulfilling the Biblical Talmudic dictate that “All of Israel is responsible one for the other.”

“Our hearts go out to the Rindenow family at this very difficult time,” expressed Dr. John A.I. Grossman, Chairman of LIBI USA. “Lone soldiers are particularly close to our hearts as these brave men and women leave the comforts of their homes outside of Israel to serve and protect the Holy Land and its citizens.”

Rindenow, a United States citizen from New Jersey, volunteered to serve in the Israeli army. He was killed on Sunday when a hand grenade exploded during a routine patrol. First Sergeant Hussam Tapesh from the Druze city of Beit Jan was killed in the incident as well. Three other soldiers were injured in the blast, with one still in serious condition. Army officials are investigating the circumstances behind this unusual tragedy.

Earlier Monday, Rindenow’s family called on the Israeli public to attend his funeral. “For most of the course of his [army] service my brother was alone,” stated his brother Jeff. “He volunteered to the army because he wanted to be a warrior. We are requesting that at least for his final departure he won’t be alone.”

Rindenow, who was twenty at the time of his death, was buried in the Netzer Hazani-Yesodot cemetery near Israel’s southern city of Ashdod. The Rabbi of Netzer Hazani eulogized him by saying, “We Israelis have the advantage of being born here, but you had the merit of both being born here and making aliyah [choosing to move to Israel]. This reflected the love you had for Israel, which compelled you to leave the US to volunteer to defend the Land of Israel.”

At his funeral, Rindenow, one of eight children, was eulogized by his siblings. His sister Yocheved shared, “You were wise like your namesake, King Shlomo, wise beyond your years. More mature than all of us. You taught us how to live with a pure and open heart.”

His brother Jeff noted, “Today is a day of tragedy for the family, for the army, and for the Jewish nation everywhere. Shlomo joined the army to follow in the footsteps of four brothers and two sisters who did national service [in Israel]. Shlomo, you always smiled, you always were there to help whoever needed it. You could have done a shorter term of service as part of the diaspora volunteer program, but you decided to do the full three years. You will always be an example to all of us, to your brothers and sisters, and everyone who knew you.”

burial“Sergeant Rindenow’s death is particularly emotional to the lone soldier community,” continued Grossman. “He is the fifth lone soldier killed in the past two years alone. We must do all that we can to strengthen all of our IDF soldiers, but especially lone soldiers who could have stayed where they were but rather chose to defend Israel.”

Female IDF Combat Soldiers: A Force to be Reckoned With

The Israel Defense Force (IDF) is making history with the creation of its third co-ed combat unit, with anticipation that more will follow.

Due to a literal lack of manpower, female combatants fought with the Haganah, a Jewish paramilitary organization in the British Mandate of Palestine, and during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948. Despite their noble contributions, women were later barred from all IDF combat duty.

With the increased demand of women wanting to enlist in IDF fighter units, Israel accepted the Equality Amendment to the Defense Services Law in 2000. The historic amendment states that acceptance to combat units must be based on ability rather than gender, a truly life altering decision for females desiring to enlist.

The new law immediately led to the creation of the Caracal Battalion, named for a species of feline whose males and females have similar features. Caracal is a light infantry unit based on the Egyptian border. Its main duties are to prevent all forms of smuggling, terrorist infiltration and African migrants and refugees from entering Israel. Since 2009, women have comprised 70 percent of the battalion.

Israel’s second co-ed unit is the Lions of Jordan. Stationed at Israel’s eastern border, the Lions of Jordan maintain security throughout the Jordan Valley.

Due to the success of Caracal Battalion and Lions of Jordan, the IDF is gearing up to launch a third co-ed battalion. Called Bardelas (Hebrew for cheetah), it will be responsible for Israel’s southern Arava sector, which stretches from the Dead Sea to Eilat along Israel’s border with Jordan. The Cheetahs are expected to have an even 50-50 ratio of male and female fighters.

LIBI co-ed combat intelligence beret march“We are proud of all of our IDF soldiers,” shared Dr. John A.I. Grossman, Chairman of LIBI USA. “We are also amazed at the nearly 2,000 women who have volunteered for fighter units. LIBI USA strives to do all that it can to make everyone’s Israeli army service as successful as possible.”

LIBI USA is responsible for providing IDF soldiers with all their educational, religious, medical and recreational needs, which fall outside of the army’s budget.

The new combat battalion is in urgent need of recreational facilities to allow the soldiers a place to unwind from their dangerous tasks and missions. “LIBI USA is presently raising funds to provide for six projects for the Cheetah battalion,” explained Grossman. “Each project costs between $15,000 and $62,500.”

The projects include both indoor and outdoor leisure areas which includes landscaping, water systems, and fencing, as well as a need to purchase a multitude of creature comforts such as furniture, sports equipment, television sets, computers, refreshment kiosks and so much more.

“We know that these leisure areas serve as a great morale boost for IDF soldiers who day and night give their all while guarding and defending the Jewish homeland,” continued Grossman. “In fact, we are all so grateful to significant donors that we invite them to meet with the Bardelas Combat Battalion personally.”

Donors may also attend the project’s inauguration and will be honored with a wall plaque noting their contributions. The soldiers, meanwhile, have been encouraged to write personal letters to donors and to include pictures in order to build a lasting friendship.

female soldiers Jordan Valley Lions Btln swearing inPresently, approximately 92 percent of IDF positions are open to female soldiers. Both men and women undergo the same rigorous boot camp and advanced training programs.

Women who serve in noncombat units, are conscripted for 24 months, while those who choose to fight must stay the same length of time as do men, 32 months. Despite this potential deterrent, the IDF has seen a 40 percent increase in women seeking to protect the Holy Land through combat service.

“The IDF has found that female fighters may have even more motivation to achieve than their male counterparts in order to prove themselves,” said Grossman. “They often have better aim at the firing range because they tend to have higher concentration and better discipline. But the mental and physical stress on all soldiers is taxing.”

The Israel Defense Forces is the most developed army in the world. Today, with its added emphasis on equal-opportunity for women, soldiers fill positions based solely on physical fortitude and determination.

“As our IDF soldiers are giving us their best, LIBI USA hopes to provide them with what they need to succeed at their missions,” reflected Grossman.