Most of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox (haredi) population does not serve in the military. This causes deep resentment in Israeli society, where mandatory service – often putting one’s life on the line to defend the country — is a cherished value.
Although this divisive issue has not gone away during the current war, many haredi Israelis are stepping forward – a few thousand are enlisting, and many are volunteering as emergency first-responders in the war zone.
In addition, haredi men and women throughout Israel are supporting soldiers and their families by preparing and delivering food, equipment and letters of appreciation, organizing prayer groups, and more.
One group, dubbed Iron Sisters, has recruited about 150 ultra-Orthodox women who are coordinating the efforts of 1,000 volunteers nationwide to supply food, housing and childcare to families of soldiers and displaced families. The Iron Sisters work out of the back room of a wig store.
And two haredi women who own several Tachshik jewelry stores in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods throughout Israel, launched the Memory Chain Project to create personalized necklaces for bereaved parents or siblings of fallen soldiers.
Each necklace – in the shape of a heart, circle, star of David, or map of Israel — is engraved with a likeness of the soldier drawn from a picture submitted online.
The charm also bears a message; some of the options are Gibor shel Ema (mother’s hero), Gibor shel Abba (father’s hero), Tamid B’libi (always in my heart), Achi Hagibor (my brother the hero), and Haperach B’gani (the flower in my garden).
Tachshik has made and delivered more than 100 so far, asking those who order them only for a voluntary donation.