With a heavy heart, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, welcomes the return of the remains of a Brooklyn-born Israel Defense Forces soldier who has been missing since Israel’s 1982 war against terrorist-backed Syrian forces in Lebanon.

The remains of IDF Sgt. First Class Zachary Baumel, believed to have been killed during the Battle of Sultan Yacoub in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, were retrieved as part of the IDF’s Operation Bittersweet Song and transported earlier this week to Israel. His parents, Yona and Miriam Baumel, were immediately notified. The announcement ends the IDF’s and the Baumel’s 37-year campaign to find Zachary.

Zachary Baumel was 21 when he went missing during the clash between IDF forces and the Syrian army. He had moved with his family to Israel in 1970 and joined the IDF through the hesder program, which combines military service with Jewish study. Israel continues to search for two other soldiers, Zvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz, who went missing at the same time.

OU President Mark (Moishe) Bane stated: “We at the Orthodox Union extend our heartfelt condolences to the Baumel family. May they be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Yerushalayim. We appreciate the persistence of the Israeli government and the IDF to resolve this sorrowful matter.”

OU Advocacy Center Executive Director Nathan Diament stated:

“Synagogues throughout our community have been praying for the Baumels for these many years. We will continue to pray for the speedy return of the two other soldiers who remain missing, Zvi Feldman and Yehudah Katz.”

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