Captain Rabbi Yisrael Wende Talks About Being an IDF Chaplain

Rabbi Wende and Gidon discussed Rabbi Wende’s remarkable journey from Melbourne to serving as an IDF chaplain, offering vital spiritual support to soldiers. His transition to teaching underscores the profound impact of his military experiences and commitment to Israel’s narrative.

Rabbi Yisrael Wende’s Life Journey and Family Background
Rabbi Wende shared about his life journey, starting from his birth in Melbourne, Australia to his move to Israel at three months old. Rabbi Yisrael is the oldest of five siblings and his parents, originally from Australia, have roots in Europe and Israel. Rabbi Wende also talked about his time living in Kadima, a small town near Netanya, where he served as an educational emissary for seven years. He also mentioned his parents’ professions; his mother is a doctor and his father works in high tech.

Rabbi Wende’s Experience in Israeli Army: Spiritual Support and Challenges
Rabbi Wende shared his experiences as a rabbi in the Israeli army, detailing the varied nature of his role depending on time and place. He mentioned providing spiritual support to soldiers, ensuring their needs were met, and sometimes participating in training exercises with them. He emphasized the unique atmosphere and camaraderie within the army, and the challenges faced by some soldiers who come from difficult backgrounds or struggle with their commitment to the service. Rabbi Wende discussed his commitment to connecting with and serving the diverse population of soldiers, including those of different faiths, and shared his experiences teaching special classes to soldiers. Gidon acknowledged the unique challenges of serving a mixed religious group, and Rabbi Wende emphasized the importance of understanding and respecting the traditions and beliefs of all soldiers.

Israeli Military Experiences Shared
Rabbi Wende and Gidon shared their experiences in the Israeli military. Rabbi Wende served at a navy base near Haifa, where he managed various tasks and connected with the personnel. He also ran the canteen on the base, using it as an opportunity to promote core values. Gidon served in a tank corps unit, where he was also responsible for supplies. They also discussed the military ranks they reached, with Rabbi Wende attaining the rank of captain and Gidon mentioning other rabbis in similar positions.

War Experiences and Jewish Identity
Rabbi Wende and Gidon discussed his experiences during the current Hamas war, focusing on the challenges faced in identifying fallen soldiers and the emotional toll on soldiers and their families. Rabbi Wende shared that he was stationed behind the front lines, but his role was crucial in ensuring no civilians were mistakenly identified as terrorists. They also talked about the impact of the war on Jewish identity, with many people seeking a connection to their heritage. Rabbi Wende mentioned that he had written a book about marriage, which he had printed and distributed to soldiers and their families. Gidon expressed appreciation for Rabbi Wende’s efforts and suggested promoting his work further through Root Source.

Rabbi Wende’s Army to Teaching Transition
Gidon and Rabbi Wende discussed Rabbi Wende’s transition from full-time army service to teaching. Rabbi Wende shared his experiences in the army and the importance of maintaining a positive attitude and smile as a rabbi. He emphasized the need for people to understand and connect with the big picture of what’s happening in Israel, and how it impacts their lives. Gidon expressed his appreciation for Rabbi Wende’s insights and offered to share the video with Rabbi Wende’s alma mater Yeshivat Bet El’s English language newsletter.

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