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Zalman Schwartz
From a Satmar anti-Zionist community to IDF Border Police
Zalman Schwartz, 20, is just one of 153 foreign volunteers in the IDF's July-August conscription class. However, Schwartz stands alone in that he was raised in the most anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox community.
According to data from the Defense Social Branch at the Ministry of Defense, 153 young men and women from abroad have come to Israel especially to draft into the IDF during the July-August conscription period.

 

 

US Jews comprise the majority of the volunteers, accounting for 45% of all new draftees.

 

Zalman Schwartz, 20, is one of those volunteers, yet his story stands apart.

 

Zalman Schwartz's transformation
Zalman Schwartz's transformation

 

Zalman was raised Satmar, the most anti-Zionist of ultra-Orthodox movements. However, he has already been conscripted and traded in his black and white dress for a Border Police uniform.

 

Schwartz detailed his experience and story in an interview with Ynet on Wednesday.

 

"I decided to enlist two years ago," said Schwartz. "When I was there, every day I studied at the yeshiva from 6:30 in the morning until 6:30 in the evening, 12 hours, and that's all I knew...As a child, I only heard that in Israel they were acting against the Jews, against religion, against everything."

 

The change came in adolescence, when Schwartz began to hear about terrorism and murder of Jews in Israel. He wanted to be part of the Jewish people and to protect them, but his community and family did not initially accept Schwarz's decision with love.

 

"It took time," he admits. "I think they understood that after all I was their son, and I had to do what was good for me.

 

"I felt that there (his community in the US) was not my place. From a young age I always asked questions, and there they do not answer such questions."

 

Jews from the US and France make up the bulk of foreign volunteers in the IDF. "We congratulate the draftees on their decision to immigrate to Israel and volunteer for IDF service," said Udi Dror, of the Defense Social Branch at the Ministry of Defense.

 

"We are making great efforts to encourage Diaspora Jewry and prepare them for meaningful service. Each year there is an increase of about 5% from the previous year in the recruitment of volunteers from abroad," noted Dror.

 

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