Steve Gar was born in Johannesburg, South Africa to a traditional Jewish family. He started becoming observant in 10th grade and was active in Bnei Akiva, a religious youth movement. Steve began his tertiary education by studying a Bcom, majoring in Accountancy and Industrial Psychology, while interning at an accounting firm. During this time, he joined a communal counter-terrorism reaction unit and was part of the protective detail for the Chief Rabbi of SA. Steve then became the head co-coordinator for the Department of Informal Jewish Education (DIJE).
At the age of 22 he made Aliyah, joining the religious Hesder program, combining Yeshiva learning with military service. He studied at Yeshivat Har Etzion and served in the Golani infantry unit, Battalion 13 – specializing in the Negev (Sub-machine gun) and received an award for ‘soldier of excellence’. In 2002, he married Natalie Pakes in Jerusalem, and the couple moved to Sydney Australia for 5 years where he worked as the Shaliach for Bnei Akiva and Natalie completed her PhD,in Clinical Psychology. Upon returning to Israel, Steve assisted in starting a Yeshiva High school for English speaking Olim (Yerushalayim Torah Academy – YTA). Soon afterwards, Steve was invited by Rosh Yeshiva HaRav Riskin (Chief Rabbi of Efrat) to join the Kollel at the Joseph & Gwendolyn Straus Rabbinical Seminary and began studying for the Rabbinate. At the same time, he completed his training as a combat Instructor, specializing in counter-terrorism, and is now responsible for training military units through the Central command of the Gush Etzion. He currently serves as a soldier on a counter-terrorist unit while completing his Rabbinical studies. In addition, Steve is one of the directors of a special needs program, Yeshivat Darkaynu. Steve and Natalie have 5 children and live in Elazar in the Gush Etzion.
Title of Talk: Counter-Terrorism: Fighting the Enemy From Within.
Brief Synopsis: Understanding Israeli counter-terrorism from the inside. Challenging the media’s perception of Israeli soldiers. How can I help in the fight against terrorism?
Steve Gar, Elite Counter Terrorism Specialist