April 24, 2024
Close this search box.
Close this search box.
April 24, 2024
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Zachary Moskovitz Prepares for the IDF at Lev LeChayal

Zachary meets some local Israelis on Yam l’Yam at Achziv Beach.

Zachary Moskovitz grew up in the Upper East Side, attending Manhattan Day School and going to shul with his family at Ohr HaChaim. Israel has always held a special place in his heart, and after not finding what he was looking for at Brandeis University, Zachary has decided to put his Zionism into action and join the Israeli Defence Forces. He found no better program for his goals than Yeshivat Lev HaTorah’s Lev LeChayal program, where he can prepare for the IDF while also getting a chance to study Torah and experience intellectual, personal and religious growth.

Why were you drawn to Lev LeChayal and what makes it different from all the other programs you considered?

My main goal with coming to Israel was to join the IDF. I specifically chose Lev LeChayal because they best embody the values of serving Am Yisrael, serving the land, and serving the country but also infuse that with growing through Jewish lens. There is a heavy emphasis on learning Torah while prepping for the army, so I could knock out two experiences at once—preparing for the army and being in Israel for the year. I want to serve in the army and give back to Israel.

First visit to the Kotel in three years!

Why did you choose to come to Lev after one year in Brandeis?

After high school I was debating between college, the IDF and yeshiva, but when Brandeis gave me a very generous scholarship I decided to take it. But Braindeis is not Israel, and was not a good fit for me as someone very passionate about Jewish life and Israel advocacy. I did not find Jewish life sufficient for me or the atmosphere conducive to growth. Don’t get me wrong; there were very meaningful parts of my Brandeis experience but I felt like it was a waste of time. I definitely gained in a lot of ways that I would not have from shana aleph and I would make the same choices again if I could go back.

Why do you want to join the army?

Growing up in New York, I didn’t have the best experience being Jewish but I was always told about Israel keeping us safe, being our global Jewish insurance policy. I have always been contributing to it from Chutz La’Aretz. But now I want to really give back and contribute to Israel.

How do you think Lev LeChayal fits your personality and your own philosophical outlook?

Lev’s hashkafa is very fine-tuned, and not having a boxy hashkafa of students but one composed of a diverse background of students from all different walks of Jewish life has been very rewarding. But all of this is in the context of religious Zionism which is at the base of everyone’s beliefs. It is an environment conducive to religious growth in ways you never expected.

Zachary and the local wildlife.

Is there any particular rabbi you personally connect with?

Rav Ely Allen. He has a unique life story. He grew up frum but became chozer latesvhuva at FDU during college and has lots of perspective on all walks of Jewish life because he has been every type of Jewish teenager you can imagine. He’s definitely not your traditional rabbi, and you can ask him anything you want. You might like the answers you get and you might not, but you won’t hear the answers from other rebbes. Forming a connection with him has been very important to me.

What were your expectations going into Lev LeChayal and how have they differed from your actual experience at Lev LeChayal?

I was nervous that since everyone I was with was preparing for the army, that the preparation for the army would overtake the learning. For some guys that’s been true but by and large it’s been a great experience. Lev has been doing this for over a decade and they know how to divide the schedules so everyone can focus on both. It’s almost shiurim all day with some army preparation.

What’s a goal you had coming into the year?

A big goal of mine, especially not having the traditional shana aleph experience, was to pack two years into one. I wanted to catch up on my skills, which has been a very meaningful challenge, and to gain independence in all of my learning.

Zachary’s front yard gets some visitors.

What are your favorite shiurim that you attend in Lev LeChayal?

Military ethics is easily my favorite. Most shiurim are about halacha and how we know the halacha. I feel like I can get that from other places…. I like long, five-hour talks on philosophy and politics or whatever. I like to really get into an issue and debate it rather than just listening to a talk. We have discussed the ethics of collateral damage, spoils of war, and the like. Being able to flex that strength of mine in that field has been probably my favorite class.

Outside of learning, what else do you enjoy doing in Israel?

I have enjoyed exploring the country and meeting Israelis, which is awesome, and I get to practice my Hebrew, whether that be through hiking, Yam L’yam. There isn’t much to do in Bet Shemesh, so if I want to go somewhere, it’s gonna be a trip, and I definitely love those trips.

What does a typical Shabbat look like for you?

I really don’t have a typical Shabbat, right now. Around half the time I am in yeshiva but aside from that I try to visit different yeshivas, relatives or friends. Shabbat has been a great way to explore the country and see authentic Israeli life.

Which one of those places has been your favorite to go to?

Raanana. I have American friends and family there but they always invite local Israelis over for the meals. So I get to see my friends and relatives but also get an Israeli experience. Getting to see the blend of the cultures has been fascinating, especially because I will more or less do the same one day.

Zachary and friends before their army interview at Tzav Rishon.

What has been the highlight of your year so far?

The first time I was able to finish a pair of tzitzit for a chayal. I have never been the best at wearing them myself, but it is very inspiring seeing videos of chayalim who have never seen a pair of tzitzit in their life wear them proudly. To know that this pair I worked on could play a role in someone’s first mitzvah is really meaningful to me.

How do you think this year will prepare you for the rest of your life?

This year I can feel myself setting down a foundation for a lot of my values, morals, and what my learning will look like throughout the rest of my life. This is a year that I am taking to breathe, to plan, to decide what kind of Jew and person I want to be. Not just where to live but how to carry myself. I have been seeing all those pieces come together and it has been incredible.

Sam Savetsky of Bergenfield is a shana bet student currently studying at Yeshivat Migdal HaTorah in Modi’in.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles