“Religion and Politics Must Be Separate From Support of IDF Soldiers”: LIBI Chairman

A new association called Tzav Ehad (One Command) has been established to help observant soldiers who feel that their religious conscience or beliefs are being challenged by serving in the Israel Defense Force (IDF). The group states that its purpose is “ensuring that all Jews are able to fulfill a Jewish lifestyle in the army.”

In general, food in the Israeli army is kosher and Jewish holidays are observed to various degrees, depending upon the unit. However, as the IDF strives to enlist more strictly Orthodox Jews, their desires for single-gender units and activities, better supervision of kosher food, the wearing of beards for religious purposes, providing time for prayers and the observance of Shabbat and holidays poses many challenges.

“The Israeli army is a conglomeration of people from all walks of life,” noted Dr. John A.I. Grossman, Chairman of LIBI USA. “Religious and secular Jews, men and women, Ashkenazi and Sephardim, Christians, Druze, Bedouins and new immigrants from all over the world serve. Uniting all of these people to protect Israel is an accomplishment.”

LIBI USA was established to support Israel’s soldiers irrespective of religious observance, sex or creed. “LIBI means ‘my heart’,” continued Grossman. “We like to think that those who support Israel’s soldiers through LIBI are doing so from the bottom of their heart for the welfare of every serving soldier. Religion and politics must be separate from support of Israel’s soldiers.”

David Ben-Gurion’s dream for the Israeli army was to create an IDF of united people in service to the nation. Taking up that post, LIBI provides for the educational, religious and recreational needs of all of Israel’s soldiers. “We maintain an enormous budget to help soldiers wherever a need arises outside of the standard army budget,” explained Grossman. “Our team of volunteers is made up of all walks of life, just like the army.”

Though there have been complaints about insufficient kosher food, the forcing of beard cutting and the insistence that observant soldiers attend events against their religious beliefs, the Tzav Ehad website notes that it believes that the majority of these incidents occurred due to a lack of understanding and not through malice.

“We know that the IDF does what it can to support soldiers in every way possible and are happy to note that Tzav Ehad also plans to encourage positive attitudes towards religious soldiers,” said Grossman. “My service with LIBI, like the IDF, is a honor as we assist all soldiers so they can serve the Nation of Israel as productively as possible.”

With the IDF’s emphasis on not only defending Israel but also building responsible and caring citizens, politics, ideology and religion must not get in the way of the army’s purpose, to protect Israel and her citizens, he continued.

“The IDF represents cultural integration in a very diverse society,” said Grossman.

LIBI USA recognizes that the army not only succeeds through its advanced equipment but through the quality of its soldiers. That’s what LIBI is all about. Ensuring that IDF soldiers have what they need to succeed.”

LIBI USA Sponsors Race to Memorialize Fallen Druze IDF Soldiers

Since the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, 411 Druze Israeli citizens have fallen while fighting with the Israel Defense Force (IDF) for the Holy Land. Four years ago, retired Druze Brigadier General Amal Asad, a former paratrooper, established Shvil HaBanim HaDruzeem (Path for the Sons of the Druze) to memorialize these soldiers.

Over 4,000 IDF soldiers and 1,000 people from Druze families participated in the race on September 23. The event, sponsored by LIBI USA and Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers, was held in Israel’s northern mountainous areas of the Galilee and the Carmel.

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Eighteen walking and biking trails have been established throughout this beautiful area to connect all of the Druze villages to each other.blackmart alpha apk Last year, eighteen army units joined forces and inaugurated these trails by placing a large engraved boulder at the start of each one which  memorializes the fallen Druze soldiers.  

“It is important to remember that the Israeli army is made up of various cultures and religions,” noted Dr. John A.I. Grossman, Chairman of LIBI USA. “We feel it is our duty to honor every IDF soldier as they honor Israel by serving in its army.”

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The Druze believe that their lineage comes from Biblical Jethro of Midian. Though they speak Arabic, they are neither Muslim nor Christian. Rather, they have their own religion which is generally hidden from outsiders.

There are approximately 140,000 Druze living in Israel, mostly in the north. They have always been welcomed into the IDF and have also attained top positions in the Israeli government and in public service. Thousands belong to Druze Zionist movements.

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“We were very happy when we were asked to sponsor this event which brings unity and well deserved recognition to so many people,” continued Grossman. “All participants received a gift package with special, high quality t-shirts and backpack. Civilian Druze who participated received specially designed memorial t-shirts of their fallen family member.”

Participants either walked or ran 5K, 10K or 15K trails and bikers rode between 13K and 30K trails. Top ranking commanders and officers were on hand in a show of unity and to join in memorializing those who gave the ultimate price while protecting the Land of Israel.

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“We must never take for granted the gift that God gave us when the Holy Land was returned to the Jewish people,” reflected Grossman. “We know that our outstanding IDF, along with God, protect this land and keep it accessible to all religions. That is a unique blessing.”

 

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