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Identity and Purpose: Jewish Values in the Military

 

Background


Over the past decade, Beit Morasha of Jerusalem has spearheaded the development and implementation of IDF educational programs on issues of Jewish identity, values and ethics through our joint program with the IDF, Identity and Purpose. Identity and Purpose has reached over 230,000 IDF officers and soldiers to date, deepening their knowledge of Jewish history, tradition and values; challenging their assumptions about war, peace, coexistence and identity; and revitalizing their identification with Jewish values and ethics. The following is a brief description of some of the key Beit Morasha programs of Identity & Purpose that focus on preparing IDF commanders to assume educational, ethical and moral leadership:

 

Ethical Drills


The premise of the Ethical Drills program is that soldiers need “ethical target practice” no less than they need “military target practice.” The Ethical Drills focuses on ethical dilemmas that emerge during the course of IDF service and take place within IDF units. The program utilizes experiential education techniques and the Beit Morasha staff prepares the unit commanders to create programs of intervention that are tailored to the needs of their units. Following this preparatory stage, the unit commanders implement the program in the field. The Ethical Drill has now become standard operating procedure for companies that are charged with patrolling civilian areas as well as check points in sensitive areas in Judea and Samaria.


Educational Weekend Shabbat Retreats


The Identity and Purpose Shabbat seminars have been designed to enable commanders to use Shabbat as an opportunity to explore the themes of the day of rest in a manner that is meaningful to their soldiers. These seminars present commanders with a model of Shabbat programming that can transform the ordinary weekends that soldiers spend on their army bases into significant experiences – times when they can deal with moral and social issues that arise during the course of military service, rather than simply lounge around between guard duties. In addition, these two-day weekend seminars introduce commanders to the content of Shabbat and to ways of utilizing Shabbat as a weekly window of opportunity for enhancing Jewish and Zionist values and identity. 

 

Bishvil Haatzmaut: Jewish Identity and Leadership for Senior IDF Officers


Bishvil Haatzmaut is an exclusive academic and interactive program in Jewish identity and leadership for a select group of officers in command of large units, comprised of 10 full study days over the course of a year. The overall goal of the program is to empower senior IDF officers with a deeper understanding of their Jewish and Israeli identity, grant them a sophisticated understanding of cultural, ethical and social issues, and impart leadership skills, both as individuals and as the leadership team of their unit, thus impacting the length and breadth of the IDF with Jewish identity, knowledge and values.

 

Adjunct Training for IDF Officers


For officers who have recently completed their officer training course and have begun their field duty, the challenges of leadership often come as a shock. Together with the IDF Education Corps, Beit Morasha facilitators offer two day respite values education programs for such officers, including psychodrama workshops that assist the officers in expressing and handling the ethical and leadership challenges that they face in the field.

 

 

A New Mission – Expanding the Ethical Drills Program


The past few months have brought to the forefront one of the most difficult missions faced by the IDF – maintaining its fundamental morality while fulfilling its task of the protection of Israel. This challenge is one of the most important faced by the Jewish people in its history. It is greatly complicated both by the fact that the behavior of the Israeli army is often determined by young soldiers operating under extreme combat conditions, and because our enemies use their own civilians as human shields.


In the wake of the recent war in Gaza, the IDF has now turned to Beit Morasha in order to radically expand its ethical training exercises for combat units. The Beit Morasha Ethical Drills will now include workshops for soldiers to consider the ethical questions they faced under combat in Gaza, as well as expanding the unique ethical training program for the IDF division tasked with maintaining the peace in the West Bank (aka Judea & Samaria). This project is intended to reach thousands of soldiers and may be the most comprehensive ethical training program ever conducted in the IDF (or by any other army).


Beit Morasha facilitators are also trained in identifying incidents of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and may refer individual soldiers for immediate professional treatment. This is an important by-product of these sessions that can have life-saving impact on our troops.

 

Help Us Expand the Reach of IDF Ethical Education


Beit Morasha has received an annual challenge grant of $300,000 from FIDF where every dollar dedicated to the ethical educational program will be matched by the FIDF. This program is based on a projected budget of $50 per soldier.


We ask for your partnership and offer you the opportunity to “adopt” an IDF unit whose commanders and soldiers will participate in this “drill.”


You can sponsor the cost of the training of an individual soldier for $50 or if you wish to adopt a unit, the following are the adoption opportunities:

 

Squad $500
Platoon $1,800
Company $5,000
Other $_____

 

 

To make a secure shekel donation online through paypal 

 

 

To make a secure dollar donation through NYCharities 

 

Amount: $

 

 

or mail your checks to:
The American Friends of Beit Morasha
Suite 1405
25 West 45th Street
New York, NY 10036
Tel: 212-840-1166
Fax 212-840-1514

 

The American Friends of Beit Morasha is a US 501 (c) 3 organization and can receive tax deductible donations

 

Beit Morasha of Jerusalem is devoted to advancing a vibrant and inclusive vision of Judaism, through cultivating inspired and dynamic Jewish leadership for the State of Israel and the Jewish world.