Tanks vs. Talmud: Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Soldiers
With his black hat, dark suit, and thick, white beard, Yitzchak Bar Chaim looks every inch the ultra-Orthodox rabbi that he is. Yet to many in his community, Bar Chaim is a traitor. The reason: He helps young men join the Israeli army.
For decades, Bar Chaim has sought to build bridges between the military and the ultra-Orthodox known in Israel as Haredim, or “those who tremble” before God. While most Haredi leaders oppose service in the army, Bar Chaim has recruited thousands of young dropouts from Jewish seminaries, or yeshivas.