Netanyahu given fallen soldier Zachary Baumel’s prayer shawl in emotional ceremony

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was gifted with Zachary Baumel’s prayer shawl during a Jerusalem Day celebration at Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva.

By World Israel News Staff

Sunday evening, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participated at a Jerusalem Day celebration at Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

During the celebration, Netanyahu received the prayer shawl of IDF hero Zachary Baumel, which was bestowed upon him by Rosh Yeshiva (dean) Rabbi Yaakov Shapira and Rabbi Aviezer Strauss, the brother of one of the other two fallen soldiers with whom Baumel perished in the 1982 Lebanese War.

Until April, Baumel’s body was not returned to Israel.

Baumel, along with Yehuda Katz and Zvi Feldman, were last seen alive during the  Battle of Sultan Yacoub, during which at least 20 Israel Defense Force (IDF) soldiers were killed and 30 wounded. Baumel, Katz and Feldman were classified as missing in action (MIA).

Netanyahu asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to have his army search for the missing soldiers. Through a secret military operation, Baumel’s remains were brought to Israel in April. Feldman and Katz are still classified as MIA.

One of the items that helped identify Baumel’s body was his prayer shawl (tallit), on which his Hebrew name was embroidered.

Additionally, Baumel’s body was identified by the Institue of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir as well as by the Chief Military Rabbi Brigadier General Eyal Krim.

While presenting the tallit to a clearly moved Netanyahu, the Rosh HaYeshiva said that he hoped that the holy item would guard the prime minister from any evil and performed the priestly blessing.

Mercaz haRav is a national-religious school of biblical studies, founded in 1924 by Israel’s Chief Rabbi at the time, Abraham Isaac Kook. It is now the most prominent religious Zionist yeshiva in the world.

Baumel immigrated to Israel with his parents from Brooklyn, New York in 1970. He combined his combat service with yeshiva study as part of the Hesder military program.