Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) called for the dismissal of Rabbi David Lau and Rabbi
Yitzhak Yosef from the Chief Rabbinate on Friday, after they reiterated their
opposition to religious women serving in the army.
“David Lau and Yitzhak
Yosef are no longer worthy to serve in Israel as chief rabbis,” he wrote in a
“This is insolence and a national scandal, and we will
work for their dismissal in the Knesset and in the government, and if necessary
in the legal department as well,” the finance minister said.
meeting of the Council of the Chief Rabbinate last month, Safed Chief Rabbi
Shmuel Eliyahu, who is strongly opposed to the enlistment of religious women,
raised the issue and asked that the panel restate its position that women’s
enlistment contravenes Jewish law.
This has been a longstanding position
of the Chief Rabbinate, but the reiteration came due to the growing numbers of
enlistment among religious girls.
Eliyahu, who belongs to the
conservative wing of the national- religious movement, has in light of that
trend embarked on a strong campaign against religious girls serving in the
According to what The Jerusalem Post learned, the Chief Rabbinate
is particularly opposed to rabbis who promote enlistment for religious women,
and the rabbinate’s preferred solution is for them to serve in the national
service program, which many women from the national-religious sector
In his Facebook post, Lapid does not make the distinction between
religious and secular women, nor does he address the issue of the proposed
alternative – national service.
“These are state employees who collect a
nice paycheck from the State of Israel, sit in their comfortable offices and
announce that they do not allow girls to serve in the mud and cold as fighters
in the Caracal Battalion, in the IAF Flight Academy, in the Border Police and in
the Naval Academy,” Lapid wrote.
“Does the [female] commander of the
Eitam combat battalion need to resign? What about [OC IDF Manpower Directorate]
Maj.-Gen. Orna Barbivai? The [female] soldier teachers? What about the [female]
Military Intelligence soldiers I met two weeks ago in the Northern Command,
hunched over screens to stop terrorists from infiltrating through the border
fence? Are they not allowed to serve either?” Justice Minister Tzipi Livni,
however, did make the distinction between religious and secular
“Instead of advancing with the times and joining Israeli society,
the Chief Rabbinate chose to withdraw and cut itself off from Israeli society
and reality,” Livni wrote on her Facebook page.
She asserted that the
chief rabbis should encourage religious women to join the army and help them in
maintaining their faith and way of life within the army ranks.
“This is a
ruling that hurts girls who are Israeli citizens [and prevents them from] acting
according to their own will, and contribute to the state,” Livni
Livni decried the Chief Rabbinate’s portrayal of Judaism as “a
different Judaism to what I believe Judaism needs to be: plural, tolerant, one
that draws [people] closer and respects women.”
The justice minister
vowed to work alongside fellow Hatnua MK Elazar Stern to “restore the good and
beautiful Judaism to the Israeli society.”
Hidush, the nonprofit
organization that promotes freedom of religion and equality, called to abolish
the Chief Rabbinate.
“Finance Minister Yair Lapid is mistaken when he
calls to dismiss the chief rabbis,” Hidush head Rabbi Uri Regev said. “The
problem is not the rabbis, but the existence of their job. Therefore it is not
the dismissal of the chief rabbis that is necessary, rather we need to abolish
the Chief Rabbinate.”
Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.
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