April 23, 2024
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Halled: IDF Unit 504’s Impact on Israelis Is More Than Military

One of the extremely special aspects of our people is that no matter where we are, no matter who we meet, there’s an immediate feeling of connection to one another. About a month ago, I was davening Mincha/Maariv in a shul in Netanya. Between Mincha and Maariv I stepped outside to check my email. Standing outside that shul was a man named Chaim. Chaim and I began to talk, and he told me about his son, a reservist, who had lost one of his closest friends on the battlefield, and that the next day would be his son’s friends’ shloshim. As we spoke further, the topic of Americans looking to help their brothers in Israel came up and Chaim gave me his son’s number to reach out and see what help he or his unit may need. His son, Dean, then put me in touch with Ido, a reservist in Unit 504 who runs an organization called Halled Association, a nonprofit formed by soldiers in the 504 Unit back in 2021. In a very short time I learned that these are two special guys, doing some very special things.

Unit 504, may sound nondescript, but is actually the human intelligence unit for the IDF. While the tasks and methodologies of this special intelligence unit are, of course, highly classified, the impact is quite apparent with anyone familiar with the IDF. Unit 504 has been credited with many game-changing intelligence coups in the past decades, including most recently being credited in the Jerusalem Post for its role in identifying, as they referred to it, “Hamas’s abuse of Gazan hospitals.” The more I learned about the unit from Ido, the more awestruck I was.

The association that Ido runs, Halled, was formed as an additional way that the soldiers and reservists of 504 could help the people of Israel. It was formed with three primary purposes in mind: 1) to help at-risk youth, Holocaust survivors and lone soldiers with resources and assistance to help ease their everyday burdens; 2) to support the personal and career development of the families of their alumni through mentoring, scholarship and guidance; and 3) to provide support for the active soldiers in the unit. In short, Halled was formed as a way for the 504 family to continue to help one another, as well as everyday Israelis struggling for various reasons.

As with pretty much all the other nonprofits in Israel, October 7 caused Halled to significantly widen the scope of their operations to provide assistance with the war effort, in any way they possibly could. They have been working to source and raise funds to supplement some comforts for the soldiers of their unit, and they have been mobilizing to provide additional security to kibbutzim through manpower and equipment in both the south and the north. They are going wherever needed, to provide some sense of comfort for the families struggling to cope with constant fear, and have arranged to occupy guard posts 24/7 so that the local community guards can have time to rest and be with their families. Finally, they have established and continue to manage and oversee a control center which monitors various settlements and connects them with the IDF and local law enforcement to ensure fluid continuity in the event assistance is needed.

To hear Ido speak about their efforts and the goals of Halled is both gut-wrenching and inspiring all at once. Though many, if not most of us in the U.S. have never heard of Halled before, that is par for the course for an organization built by a unit of heroes who are used to savings lives without anyone knowing much about them.

The bottom line is: Ido and Halled need our help here in the U.S. to be able to continue to carry out their mission. They need our moral support, our tefillot and our resources to be able to supplement the tireless work they are engaged in. If you would like to learn more about Halled, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected], and I will be more than happy to connect you with Ido so you can hear firsthand from him how we can best help.


Daniel Krausz can be reached at [email protected].

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