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    Chaim Meisels, 29, is the great-grandson of
    the Satmar Rebbe, R’ Beirach Moshe. About
    eight years ago, Chaim chose to immigrate
    to Israel and enlist in the IDF. Chaim left
    everything behind, enlisted in the IDF combat
    unit, and was sworn in at the Kotel. Chaim
    served as a commanding officer in the Egoz
    program, a special forces unit and then was
    in Golani. Despite everything, Chaim did
    not sever ties with his family and his father,
    Rav Mordechai Aharon Meisels, a Rav with
    a shul in Williamsburg. Rav Mordechai
    Aharon is a son of Rav Dov Berish Meisels,
    a son-in-law of R’ Beirach Moshe.
    Last week Ari Hirsch/Jewish Vues
    interviewed Chaim about his time serving
    for Tzahal in Gaza & discussed how the
    great grandson of the Satmar Rebbe
    became a captain in the IDF.

    Before we begin, I would like to thank you
    for protecting Klal Yisrael and serving in
    Tzahal right now. Our readers living in
    Chutz La’aretz appreciate everything
    you and all of the other chayalim are
    doing right now.
    Thank you, I appreciate it! I’ll tell you
    firsthand that it means a lot here to the
    guys in Israel when they see that they get
    support from out of the country, especially
    from someone in the news. It means a lot to
    everyone here, so thank you!

    Are you currently active in Gaza?
    I’m not in Gaza. My unit left last week. We
    are now finishing up what we did. Tomorrow,
    we will go over everything that happened to
    us over the last three months and then by
    next Wednesday I will hopefully be done and
    be able to go home. It depends on what the
    army is going to need from me, but I should
    have a little time off. I might have to come
    back in a month or two, I might
    not, it really depends on what
    happens in the war. My team is
    older and everyone has families.
    Everyone put their life on hold
    for the last three months, so now
    we’re trying to get back. If they
    need us they’ll call us back again
    or if not I’ll be able to be with my
    family a little bit. I’ll probably
    have to come back within the year
    for a month or two again, but I’m
    not sure exactly when.

    What is your title in the army?

    As captain, what does your job entail?
    It all depends on the day. My units main job
    is using armored vehicles to transport
    soldiers and equipment. We evacuate injured
    from the battlefield and quickly bring
    emergency supplies to soldiers on the front
    lines and we do whatever else has to get done
    for our teams. We’re well-trained and drive
    with night vision and we drive very fast. Our
    job is dangerous and rewarding.

    Can you please go back to October 7th
    and tell everyone where you were that
    day and what exactly happened?
    My wife & I went for the second days of
    Sukkos to my wife’s family. Everything
    started off normal. I didn’t think anything
    major had happened. I woke up and I went
    to shul. I was in the middle of davening, it
    was about 11:00 or 12:00, and a Hatzalah
    member came to me and told me that the
    goyim from Hatzalah said there was a
    massive attack in Israel with about 100
    dead. I told him he was probably mixed up
    and it didn’t make sense. A few minutes
    later he came back to me and told me that
    something was really going on, could I tell
    him what was going on? I went home,
    turned on my phone, my wife was standing
    next to me, and I had a bunch of messages
    from my guys because I’m a lieutenant in
    the reserves. I was in the reserves before
    the war as well, a few times. All my guys
    under me and my commander
    above me texted me, “Hey
    Chaim, why are you not
    answering? We need you.
    There’s something going
    on, you have to come right
    away.” So that’s basically
    what I did. I asked my wife
    if she was okay with it and
    she said absolutely. By then
    we started to understand
    what was happening. I put
    a uniform and my tallis and
    tefillin in a bag and drove to JFK. When
    I got there, the desk terminal was still
    closed because it was Shabbos. We found
    out there was a flight at 11:00 at night only
    for soldiers or whoever got a call from
    the army to come. When I came to Israel,
    I went straight up North to my guys who
    were in the North for the first two days.
    I was there from Sunday afternoon until
    Monday or Tuesday, and then we went
    down South. We trained for about a week,
    a week and a half, and we went into Gaza
    within the first few hours of when we
    started going in.

    How long were you in Gaza?
    For a couple of months. From the beginning
    of the war, almost until now. I was out a
    few times. One time, I came to New York
    for two days. On Shabbos Chanukah, I
    surprised my wife at home. I left Gaza on
    Wednesday, I flew home Thursday, and I
    was back in Israel on Monday.

    Have you lost any soldiers under your
    command? How have you been dealing
    with that?
    I lost one soldier that was under my
    command in the beginning, but when he
    passed away he wasn’t anymore because
    we had both switched jobs. So he was
    not directly under my command when it
    happened. It’s very sad. He left a wife and
    four beautiful kids at home. In terms of
    dealing with it, at the moment I’m still not
    dealing with it to be honest. I think one day
    I’ll have to figure out how I’m going to deal
    with it, but at the moment it’s just knowing
    and telling myself and everyone else that
    we’re going to help this family in whatever
    way we can, but I’m not exactly sure yet
    how it’s going to happen. They’re still
    sitting shiva, so the pain isn’t really healed
    yet. We still have some injured guys that
    we have to pray for. One of my guys is still
    on a respirator. We daven for him a lot and
    we have another six guys that are lightly
    wounded, so we daven for them, as well.

    Where do you live?
    I currently live in Pomona, New York. I
    go back to Israel all the time for milluim,
    but I didn’t think it would happen with a
    minute’s notice. I didn’t think it would ever
    happen that way.

    Is your wife still in Pomona?

    You are the grandson of the Satmar
    Rebbe. Please tell everybody which
    Satmar Rebbe we’re referring to, who
    your father is, who your mother is etc.
    My great grandfather was the old Satmar

    Rebbe, Reb Moshe. He had two sons,
    who are now the Satmar Rebbes. Reb
    Aaron and Zalman Leib. They had a
    sister, Chaya, who is my father’s mother.

    When did you go to Israel for the first
    time & when did you enlist in the
    I grew up as a Charedi child in Brooklyn.
    I had the feeling that something was
    missing, but I didn’t know what. My
    first visit to Israel was at the age of 11.
    I discovered the State of Israel, a Jewish
    state. I did not yet know how it would
    affect me, but I felt that I had come
    home. When we returned to Brooklyn
    a few days later, I felt like another
    person. Suddenly there was something I
    connected to, the State of Israel. Because
    I am the grandson of the Satmar Rebbe,
    and the community in which I grew up
    does not support Israel, I had no one to
    talk about it with.
    I came to Israel again at the age of 15,
    this time to study in a yeshiva in Bnei
    Brak. The only language I spoke at
    the time was Yiddish, and I could not
    communicate with the outside world
    like I wanted to. When I returned to
    the United States a year later, I bought
    a phone with the Internet (we were
    not allowed to own one in a yeshiva),
    decided to learn English, learn about
    Israel and a little about the world.

    At the age of 17, I realized that I wanted to
    live a different lifestyle. In the beginning
    of 2014, a few months before ‘Operation
    Protective Edge,’ almost a year after I left
    the community in which I grew up in, I
    decided that I wanted to enlist. I bought
    a plane ticket and went alone to Israel. At
    first, a friend connected me to the ‘Soldier
    to Soldier’ organization. In August 2014,
    after three months of basic training, I was
    accepted into the Egoz unit. I didn’t tell
    anyone my story. I was afraid that they
    would think I wasn’t suitable. I wanted
    to grow and the opportunity didn’t come
    in that unit. After consulting with Rav
    Hoshea Friedman, the Admor of Pashkan,
    I chose to leave the unit and join a battalion.
    I became a commander in Golani, then I
    went to officer school, which is another
    year of schooling. I was a Lieutenant in
    Golani and in a commander’s course. For
    the last couple months of my service I was
    in a pilot’s course and was the commander
    of the trainees. And then I got out.

    What was your family’s reaction when
    you went to Israel?
    It was a little difficult for them to
    understand the reason why I was doing
    it. It wasn’t that easy, but I always
    made sure they knew that it was never

    about being rebellious or anything
    against them. I had an inner calling to
    enlist. In the beginning, some people
    thought that I was doing it as an act of
    rebellion, but I always tried to explain
    that it wasn’t a rebellious move. It was
    something I believed that I had to do
    and I had a calling for. In the beginning
    it was difficult for them to understand
    why I was doing it and that created a
    lot of friction, but once time passed
    and they saw that I was a good human
    being, things cleared up. Now, it’s hard
    for them, but not because they don’t
    support the country; it’s hard for them
    because they’re scared. Unfortunately,
    not everyone comes back and they’re
    scared for me.

    Tell me a little bit about your wife,
    when you got married, how did that
    work out?
    My wife is Chassidishe Skver. We got
    married approximately six months ago.
    Her family is very nice and supportive
    of what I do. Obviously, they’re worried
    right now, but they’re also very proud.
    When we met I told her that I didn’t
    think any war was going to happen or
    that I’m going to have to go to Israel,
    but we both had a plan to
    eventually move there. My
    plan always was, and still
    is, that one day I’m going to
    live in Israel full time. It’s
    just a matter of figuring it
    out financially. I don’t want
    to move to Israel until I’m
    settled financially, but she
    always knew that I belong
    here and I like it here and I
    come to the reserve. I came
    to the reserve before we got
    engaged and once after the
    wedding, so it’s something
    that I always did and I will

    probably do for a while. Of course, we
    didn’t think a war was going to happen
    and I’d be away for almost three months,
    but the reserve was always a big part of
    me, so it was a natural thing for me to do.
    It’s not a nice thing to go to war, but she
    understood right away that that’s what
    was going to have to happen.

    Your grandfather was known to be
    against the medina of Eretz Yisrael. If
    you could go and speak to your great
    grandfather Reb Moshe Teitelbaum,
    right now, the Satmar Rebbe, what
    would you say to him?
    There’s not a lot to say. I’d probably ask
    for a bracha and I know that wherever he
    is now they know what the truth is. Maybe
    they disagreed with Israel becoming
    a country, but now it’s a fact. As Israel
    is a state already, we have to support it
    because there’s millions of Jews there
    who need to be safe. It really doesn’t
    matter if they initially disagreed about
    how the State of Israel came about and if
    it was supposed to be or not, but now it’s
    established. Once it’s established, you
    have to support it because there’s a lot of
    Jewish blood on the line if not. That’s the
    way I look at it.

    What do you think he would say back
    to you?
    I think he would agree.

    When are you planning to go back to
    New York?
    If everything goes as planned, I should be
    home by next week. Then I’ll probably
    take a week or two vacation to be with
    my wife a little and then hopefully we’ll
    start doing something.

    On a more positive note, please explain
    the Achdut that’s going on right now
    in Eretz Yisroel.
    It’s B”H insane! It’s way beyond
    anything that I can explain. For example,
    I went out a few times since the war
    started and maybe a quarter of the time,
    I had to pay for my coffee.
    Almost always someone else
    paid for my coffee. Heshy
    Reiss, a good friend from the
    Five Towns, left his family
    so that he could go around
    bases visiting soldiers. He
    sent money for my team
    quite a bit. It’s amazing! The
    support is fantastic! Even
    the Chareidi community!
    I didn’t believe that I was
    going to see Chareidi guys
    calling me that they want
    to make barbecues on my
    base. It was very surprising.

    I didn’t actually bring them, but the idea
    that they wanted to come and that they are
    showing support and that they’re doing, it’s
    beyond anything I expected. I knew they
    would support us, but I didn’t know that it
    was going to be as much. It’s really heart
    warming and it shows that we’re in it as a
    Klal Yisrael. It’s not like me or you or the
    people who live next to the border, it’s the
    Jewish people as a nation from wherever
    in the world you are. We get letters from
    literally all over the world.

    Do you think soldiers appreciate the
    letters from the different yeshivas?
    Yes, especially when they say where they are
    writing from. Twenty letters from the same
    school is one thing, but then when you get
    a letter from a school in the Five Towns and
    then a letter from a school in New Jersey
    and then a letter from a school in Canada…
    When you see that all around the world Jews
    are still supporting us… We’re paying a very
    tough price for it, nothing is going to pay for
    the price we pay like losing friends or their
    family losing them, nothing is going to ever
    make it right, but seeing that people around
    the world understand how important that is,
    it makes you feel a little better.

    Are there any specific names that you
    would like to give us for tehillim purposes
    just their names so that people that are
    reading the article can have them in
    Yes. His name is לאה אורה בן צבי יובל. He’s
    still alive and hopefully he’s going to have
    a good recovery, but he still needs a lot of

    Have you been able to visit him in the
    hospital since you’re out?
    No, the family asked not to go visit since
    they’re with him and he’s not awake and will
    appreciate the visit. Hopefully when he gets
    better, we’ll go.

    What do you do for your parnassah,
    outside of the army, when you’re in New
    I can tell you what I did before the war.
    Before the war, I had a training business.
    I was training Krav Maga and personal
    training. I had a few trainers that I was
    working with. I was mainly focused between
    real estate and construction, but the war
    stopped that and once I come back I’ll figure
    myself out again. I want to do something a
    little more on my own.

    Are you planning to go back to Israel?
    For sure. If the military needs me, I’ll be
    back in a heartbeat. If not, I’ll do as much
    as I can.

    Is there anything else you would like to
    Thank you and all the readers of The Jewish
    Vues for all the support. People should be
    proud of being Jewish. I don’t know if it’s
    in your community or not, but I hear from
    some friends that they don’t feel comfortable
    to go around with an Israeli flag or a kippah
    or a necklace with Israel. I think the more
    people that show their Jewish pride, the
    better. We should be proud of who we are

    as a country and as a nation. If someone
    approaches you, you’re allowed to give
    them a piece of your mind and say what’s
    really going on, not whatever they spread.
    We should not be embarrassed of anything.
    I know that I’m not embarrassed of anything
    that the military does or anything we did. It’s
    good and we’re doing a great job, so no one
    should be embarrassed or scared that they’re
    Jewish. I know and they should know that
    we’re doing the right thing and whatever
    they did to us was very bad and we should
    stand up for ourselves.


    What is your favorite thing that
    someone from Chutz La’aretz gave
    you when you were in the army?
    For me, it was two things and
    they’re both almost equally
    important. One was shoes and one
    was a helmet because the army
    gives you shoes and the army
    gives you a helmet, but the one I
    received from someone as a gift
    is a lot better than what the army
    could give. I really appreciated
    both of them!

    If people are coming to get and
    give chizzuk to Eretz Yisrael right
    now and want to bring something
    to the chayalim, what would you
    tell them to bring?
    Every soldier has a different need,
    not even every soldier, every
    unit. For example, for my unit
    now I’m trying to arrange to get
    shoes for everyone on my team.
    I’m not sure that I’ll be able to
    get for everyone, but that’s what
    I’m trying to do. So if someone
    would ask me today what I need,
    I’d tell them that my team could
    use better shoes. We could use
    approximately one hudred pairs. If
    you ask me next week, hopefully,
    I’ll say I don’t need that anymore,
    so it really depends on the unit.
    Some guys needed good thermal
    clothing, more expensive ones
    than the army could afford to
    give. My team got that already,
    but other teams and other soldiers
    might still need that. So it really
    depends on the team and the
    individual soldier what they would
    appreciate most.

    Were you a part of a lot of these
    barbecues that people were
    Unfortunately, not too many.
    Maybe two or three. Surprisingly,
    they didn’t make them in Gaza. The
    guys on the border got them a little
    more than my unit did.

    What’s your favorite food on the

    Name someone alive that you
    would call a leader?
    Rav Hoshea Friedman, the Admor
    of Pashkan. He’s the old Vizhnitz
    Rebbe’s great grandson. He was in
    the army and in charge of everyone
    in the reserve until 2014. He got
    out of the army in 2015 or 2016. He
    was one of the most high-ranking
    rabbanim for sure. He has a nice shul
    and a yeshiva in Yerushalayim. He’s
    a very interesting rav and a real
    leader. In the army, he was never a
    rabbi. He was full on combat.

    Name someone that you met in
    your lifetime that you would say
    has true Ahavas Yisrael.
    I will say again, Rav Hoshea
    Friedman, the Admor of Pashkan

    If you could have three dinner
    guests for your Friday night
    Shabbos dinner, anybody from
    the beginning of time, it could be
    anybody. Who would you want
    sitting there at your Shabbos table?
    1.The Baal Shem Tov
    2. Avraham Avinu
    3. Shlomo Hamelech