Monday, August 15th | 18 Av 5782

September 21, 2014 4:50 pm

Great-Grandson of Fiercely Anti-Zionist Rabbi Joins IDF (VIDEO)

avatar by Dave Bender

Haim Maizlish - IDF recruit. Image: screenshot.

Haim Maizlish - IDF recruit. Image: screenshot.

Haim Maizlish, the American-born great-grandson of a major rabbi of the New York-based Satmar rabbinic dynasty – known for it’s staunch opposition to both Zionism, and efforts to enlist yeshiva students to serve in its army – recently completed basic training in the IDF, Israel’s Channel 10 News reported.

“…he would have been opposed, but times have changed,” Maizlish told his hosts, who asked him what his venerated great-grandfather would have thought of his move. “I believe in our country, and I think I need to do army service,” he said in the interview, conducted last Wednesday.

His grandmother was a daughter of the 2nd Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, known as the Berach Moshe.

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Maizlish, who arrived in Israel alone to volunteer for his IDF service, is among several hundred so-called lone soldiers, who are often children of Israelis living abroad, or idealistic youth seeking to help Israel. Many serve as part of their responsibility as olim (new immigrants) to Israel, and remain after their service, while some return to their countries of origin.

It took me many years to get to the exact point, but when I was a little boy, I thought that ‘one day I will want to go to the army,” said Maizlish, who studied for 18 years in a yeshiva (religious seminary). “It was a dream, and I didn’t think it would ever come true,” Maizlish recalled.

Two such soldiers with dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship, Sean Carmeli of South Padre Island, Texas and Max Steinberg of Los Angeles, California, were killed in fighting during this summer’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. Another immigrant soldier, Jordan Bensemhoun, from France, was also killed in fighting in Gaza.

The issue of the draft for tens of thousands of haredi (ultra-orthodox) Jews is a sharp bone of contention in Israeli society, and has caused coalition crises and brought tens of thousands of protesters into the streets on both sides across the public divide whenever the issue comes up for debate.

Maizlish, however, said he loved his family and “had no intention of fighting” with them over the issue of his service, despite their displeasure, and pointed out that he’d left the haredi world several years prior to his decision to move to Israel and join the IDF.

Maizlish, who hopes to be accepted to the elite paratroopers’ unit, is due to next attend an army-mandated intensive Hebrew-language program which focus primarily on military, and not Biblical, terminology.

Watch a video of his interview:

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Watch a video of the experience of lone soldiers in Israel:

[iframe width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”//” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>]

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