Staff Sergeant Eli Englard, an IDF lone soldier, was recently nominated by the commanding officer of his base for the President’s Award for Excellence. Later escalated by the commanding officer of the Nachal Brigade, it was ultimately ratified by the President of Israel, Yitzchak Herzog. Englard received the prestigious President’s Award of Excellence, along with 119 other IDF soldiers, during a Yom Ha’atzmaut ceremony last week in Israel at the home of President Herzog. Sergeant Englard launched his IDF service in the Nachal Brigade in March of 2020. He was the only oleh chadash chayal boded for promotion to being a basic training commander in July 2021, and named the number one commander on his base by the commanding officer. Englard is now on course to become a lieutenant and platoon commander in the IDF this June, when he will be in command of over 40 soldiers. Currently Englard serves in the infantry unit of Nachal, specializing in urban and desert warfare.
Englard shared these thoughts upon learning he had received the prestigious award. “I feel very honored, shocked and happy to be able to show other olim chadashim that they can also succeed at a very high level in the IDF as commanders or officers. Even a kid from Teaneck can reach these heights. In addition, I feel that the seriousness of the army and the weight of responsibility that I have been given over the past 2 years has made me stronger minded and given me a unique perspective on life. Although it has been a difficult road, it has all been worth it. Jews have to feel a responsibility to defend other Jews, especially now with the recent terror attacks here in Israel. That starts with making our presence felt in the Land and defending it. If we don’t defend the Land, Jews won’t be safe anywhere.”
Englard grew up in Teaneck and attended the Moriah School and Torah Academy of Bergen County. At TABC, he was president of the Israel Advocacy Club, which expanded from 10 members to 150 members under his leadership. He also was a member of the Future Leaders of the AIPAC committee, both attending and attracting to TABC many AIPAC and NORPAC events. After high school, he attended the Atzmona Preparatory Academy in southern Israel before making aliyah and enlisting in the Nachal Brigade of the IDF in March 2020.
According to Englard’s family, Eli knew from a young age that he wanted to serve in the IDF, as soon as he’d be eligible. He took his education about Zionism and Judaism seriously, from multiple sources including his schools, camps and community shuls. He also learned firsthand about the land on many trips with his parents to visit family in Israel. Through these experiences, he came to understand that, “The destiny of all Jews is tied to the people and the State of Israel.” Englard felt that it wouldn’t be right for him to be going to college in the U.S. while other Jews his age would be sacrificing years of their lives to defend the Jewish people and the land.
Englard’s parents expressed, “We feel immense pride that Eli has received this prestigious award. We are just a few generations after the horrors of the Holocaust where our families lost so much. So to have our son step up as he has, to defend the current generation, makes us extremely proud. We’re happy that he’s being recognized for all of his efforts and contributions.” Englard has received numerous awards as he has moved up the ranks these past 2 years, so the family was not surprised when he told them he had been nominated. “When we heard that the award was ratified, we were ecstatic. I grew up in Israel watching the annual ceremony at the home of the president; so to be there this year with my Eli was a surreal moment.”
Besides his love for serving in the IDF; Eli enjoys cooking, fishing and playing guitar.
The Jewish Link joins in wishing mazel tov to Eli and the entire family!
By Ellie Wolf