Rivlin commemorated the Chanukah miracle by lighting candles on the first night of the holiday with ultra-Orthodox Israeli soldiers.
By World Israel News Staff
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin lit the first candle of Chanukah on Sunday evening with soldiers from the ultra-orthodox units of the IDF, including the Tomer battalion of the Givati Brigade, the Hetz company of the Paratroopers Brigade and the Netzah Yisrael battalion of the Kfir Brigade.
“You are modern-day Hasmoneans – soldiers, warriors, righteous men who learn Torah,” said Rivlin, referring to the fierce sect of Jewish soldiers who defeated the far more powerful Greek army in the Second Temple-era battle commemorated by the Chanukah festival.
The IDF’s religious soldiers are “a Chanukah miracle,” declared Rivlin as the Jewish people kicked off this year’s eight-day holiday.
Other participants in the ceremony included Brigadier Eran Shani, head of ultra-orthodox administration in the IDF, and Lt-Col Telem Hazan.
Around 7,400 religious soldiers serve in the IDF, with enlistment levels reaching record highs in recent years
“I am impressed by the diversity I see here – Hasidim, Lithuanians and Sephardim,” said Rivlin, referring to Jews from various religious traditions who come together in the Israeli army to protect the Jewish state.
“You represent all the strands of the ultra-Orthodox community. I want to express my deep appreciation for your contribution to the security of the State of Israel. Your contribution is wide-ranging. You are a bridge of unity,” he added.
The president concluded by commenting, “You are an inspiration and prove to us all that we can find the balance between protecting the country and protecting what is most important to us. Each one of you have his own values and his own way of life. I remember when I was in military service, there were several ultra-Orthodox soldiers with me. We did not change our way of life and we did not try to change our comrades’ way of life. We were all brothers in arms.”