Israel career soldier Lieutenant Colonel Javier Rosenfeld has been representing the Israel Defense Force (IDF) to Jews and Christians in Latin America for nearly two years. Originally from Uruguay, the dynamic spokesperson does all he can to counteract the rampant negative press Israel and its army often receives and encourages young people to volunteer to protect the Holy Land.
Rosenfeld’s experience as manager for Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers in Latin America has generally been positive. “In the Diaspora, I have found that people are very Zionist,” he told Breaking Israel News. “The importance of Israel in general and IDF soldiers in particular makes them want to be involved. People feel that Israel’s soldiers are our own children. The soldiers are there for us and we are here for them.”
As someone who knows well both Latin American and Israeli culture and someone who served in Israel’s army for over 27 years, Rosenfelt was sent by Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers to build bridges between Israel and Latin America. His job is to develop new Yahad branches in Latin America and connect the Jewish and gentile communities with Israel and the IDF through lecturing in various embassies, schools, churches and parlor meetings.
Rosenfeld has also developed a relationship with David Ruitberg of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) in São Paulo, Brazil. This church created a full-size replica of Solomon’s Temple in order to give a taste of the glory of the ancient Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.
The main sanctuary has seating for 10,000 worshippers and Rosenfeld will speak there next year. Miguel Peres, a representative of the church, explained to Breaking Israel News that it is the church’s desire to inspire people to support Israel.
The history of the Jews in Latin America began when conversos (Jews who publicly recanted their Jewish faith and pretended to adopt Christianity under tremendous pressure during the Spanish Inquisition) joined the Spanish and Portuguese expeditions in 1942 under the auspices of Christopher Columbus. During and after World War II, many more Jews found refuge in South America. Today, the Jewish population of Latin America is approximately 435,000, with most living in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Rosenfeld told Breaking Israel News that he always wanted to serve in the IDF. His family immigrated to Israel from Uruguay when he was 13 years old. He enlisted in the army, as all Israelis do, at the age of 18. “We came with 10 other families to Israel and only my family remained,” he said. “As the nucleus of my entire family is in South America, I feel it is very important to keep these people connected to the Holy Land and inspire young people to enlist in Israel’s army, even as lone soldiers.”
With Rosenfeld’s background, Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers asked him to help people better appreciate the life saving-and crucial work of the IDF as well as the need for people to support Yahad’s social welfare programs. Yahad is the only official organization supporting the IDF in Israel with 100 percent of every donation going directly to aid Israeli soldiers.
Rosenfeld’s dedication to Israel and the IDF is palpable as he describes his service. “I was disqualified from being in an Israeli combat unit due to health reasons and started my military service as a tank mechanic. But I didn’t care,” he said. “I am the first in my entire extended family to wear an IDF uniform. So, it is a pride not only for me but for my entire family.”
He said that Yahad’s cultural and educational programs taught him a lot about Jewish values and raised his pride at being part of the army that preserves the State of Israel. In addition, he noted important other Yahad sponsored projects, such as “Uniform to University”, which provides educational scholarships to combat soldiers upon completion of their service, equipping army auditoriums and gyms, and more, all of which have a large impact on soldiers.
“I see the soldiers when they receive a new club for a unit or a gym or other perks which show that people appreciate their service to Israel,” he continued. “Knowing that there are people worldwide who support and think about them is a big morale booster.”
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This article was written in cooperation with Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers.