2,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews volunteer for IDF

Most of the men belong to the Litvak religious stream.

By JNS | | Topics: Gaza, Hamas
Haredi men who decided to join the IDF arrive at the army's recruitment office at Camp Yaakov Dori in Ramat Gan's Tel Hashomer neighborhood, Oct. 23, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.
Haredi men who decided to join the IDF arrive at the army's recruitment office at Camp Yaakov Dori in Ramat Gan's Tel Hashomer neighborhood, Oct. 23, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.

More than 2,000 ultra-Orthodox Israelis have asked to be enlisted in the IDF, in an unprecedented mobilization in the haredi sector.

The volunteer recruitment follows Hamas’s murder of more than 1,400 Israelis and wounding of thousands of others on Oct. 7, the bloodiest one-day attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust.

About 150 haredim arrived at the IDF recruitment office at Tel Hashomer in Ramat Gan on Monday as the military begins to draft them as volunteers. Most of the volunteers, who ranged in age from their mid-20s to late 30s, are members of the Lithuanian (Litvak) stream of ultra-Orthodoxy.

Ultra-Orthodox male yeshiva students are generally exempt from military service as part of a widely-criticized decades-old arrangement. The accord had been slated to be reviewed and renewed this autumn in the Knesset.

In the first years of the state, Israel offered exemptions from military service to 500 ultra-Orthodox Jewish scholars, a number that has mushroomed to tens of thousands over the decades.

The ultra-Orthodox believe that studying Torah is the best protection for the state, a view that has drawn resentment from the rest of the public as the numbers who avoided military service swelled.