(Photo: IDF)

From the Charedi World to the IDF: Binyamin Goffin’s Religious Journey

BY YITZCHAK HILDESHEIMER

First Sergeant Binyamin Goffin is one of 120 soldiers who received an award for excellent service from President Herzog on Yom HaAtzmaut. Though he grew up in a Charedi household, he says, “In pre-military training and during my service in the IDF, I was more diligent in observing the mitzvot and studying Torah than at my parents’ house.” 

Goffin grew up in an Charedi environment in Baltimore, United States, in what he describes as a Charedi Lithuanian family. As a child, he studied at Talmud Torah and attended Charedi institutions. But during high school, a Charedi institution, “I had questions and did not observe Shabbat.”

Binyamin explains, “From the age of 18, I studied at Ashreinu, an American gap-year yeshiva that is Religious Zionist. I became more connected to Religious Zionism, which I knew very little about before. Rabbi Gotch Yudin, the head of the yeshiva and a real Zionist, greatly influenced me when I did teshuvah,” notes Goffin.

“At that time, they influenced me to make Aliyah. Initially, my parents were against it, but when they saw that my new community strengthened my Jewish identity, they eventually accepted my opinion and agreed to my Aliyah.”

Upon officially making Aliyah, Goffin joined the Atzmona Mechina (pre-military preparatory school), where he found his place, and after a year, he decided to enlist in the IDF. “During my time at the yeshiva in Beit Shemesh and the preparatory school, my religious commitment grew stronger again, and my desire to enlist in the IDF also intensified,” he says regarding his enlistment period.

During his initial period in the army, he studied Hebrew for three months, and that was the only period in which he was not surrounded by religious soldiers. “On the other hand,” he says, “everyone participated in Shabbat meals, and the general religious atmosphere was positive.”

Were there any instances when you encountered disrespect or challenges while praying or observing Shabbat?

“They usually treated me with respect and appreciation, and they never attempted to hinder my observance.”

Would you recommend to your friends from the Charedi society where you grew up to immigrate to Israel and enlist in the IDF?

“Not for everyone, but only for those who genuinely desire to pursue this path seriously and have the ability to strengthen their commitment to observing mitzvot even after immigrating to Israel and serving in the army. For those individuals, I would certainly recommend following this path.”

In a brochure published by the office of the President of the State, which contains the details of all 120 outstanding soldiers, it is written that “Binyamin, 23 years old, immigrated to Israel in 2020 out of a sense of mission and a desire to contribute to the IDF and the country. Despite facing language difficulties, he successfully completed a combat medics course.”

 

Originally published in Hebrew in Matzav HaRuach.

© 2024 World Mizrachi

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