IDF Denies Request by Family of Fallen Soldier to Inscribe Gravestone with Divine Retribution

IDF Denies Request by Family of Fallen Soldier to Inscribe Gravestone with Divine Retribution

Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana requested from Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi that they honor a request by the family of a fallen IDF officer to add an inscription calling for God to avenge his blood.

Cpt. Yisrael Yudkin, aged 22, from Kfar Chabad, was a deputy company commander in the Haredi Netzah Yehuda battalion. He fell in battle on May 22 and was buried at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem. 

Per Jewish custom, a headstone was placed on his grave after 30 days. His grave was marked by a blank slab of marble and a plastic sign bearing his name, rank, date of death and the logo of the Israel Defense Forces.

The IDF has been challenged by the special request of his family, who are Haredi (ultra-Orthodox). They requested that the letters הי”ד (HYD) be added to the headstone. 

The letters are an acronym for השם ינקום דמו (hašhem yinkōm damō, literally “may Hashem/God avenge his blood”). The acronym is applied to Jews who were murdered by antisemites.

The IDF denied the request, claiming the acronym did not conform to its protocols for military headstones.

The denial of the request raises questions about whether the IDF is willing to accommodate religious soldiers. 

“I received a request from the Yudkin family, who sadly received a negative response to their request and the tombstone has remained unmarked,” Ohana wrote. “The Yudkin family from Kfar Chabad, a haredi family with four children who are proudly serving in the IDF, including Major Dubi Yudkin, who has been serving in the reserves since October 7, has lost one of their most precious possessions.”

“There is no dispute that the principle of uniformity is of great importance, but I believe that under the circumstances, the wishes of the family and respect for the deceased have the greater weight. The abbreviation ‘Hy”d has served the Jewish people for many generations. There is nothing wrong with allowing it on a military tombstone, especially when the bereaved family requests this. Therefore, I ask you to reconsider the decision and fulfill the family’s wishes for their honor, for the honor of their son, soldier Israel Yudkin OBM, and for the honor of the Israel Defense Forces and the State of Israel.”

“The Defense Ministry is simply tormenting our family,” Dubi Yudkin, one of Yisrael’s brothers from Kfar Chabad, said in an interview (in Hebrew) with Channel 14 on Monday. He added that the Yudkin household is “a Haredi family with four sons serving in the army.”

Rabbis from the Tzohar rabbinic group asked Defense Minister Yoav Galant and IDF Chief-of-Staff Herzi Halevi to respect the family’s request.

“Such measures of sensitivity are necessary in our ongoing quest to help ensure that the army can be something embraced by the greater Israeli population,” the rabbis wrote, adding that in light of the family’s “sacrifice, we would ask that the decision be granted to forgo the need for uniformity in favor of the family’s interests.”

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