The rabbinical leadership of the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox community instructed
young haredi men to continue to present themselves at IDF recruiting offices if
and when they receive enlistment orders, despite complaints about the medical
exams they undergo at the offices.
In a public notice published on the
front page of the Yated Neeman haredi daily newspaper on Thursday, the Council
of Torah Sages, a body comprised of the most senior haredi rabbis in the
country, instructed yeshiva students who have received enlistment orders to
present themselves to the IDF but not to sign any documents and to simply
declare themselves to be yeshiva students.
This is in accordance with an
earlier directive issued by the council back in August.
senior haredi MKs Moshe Gafni and Ya’acov Litzman held a meeting with officials
in the Defense Ministry to address the complaints and concerns of several
yeshiva students and the haredi leadership with regards to the standard medical
exams all recruits undergo in the initial enlistment process.
yeshiva students have reported that they were not dealt with “in accordance with
their haredi lifestyle” at the recruitment office, and yeshiva deans have voiced
concern about the medical exams that all recruits are given, particularly that
they not be conducted on yeshiva students by women.
The Council of Torah
Sages notice in Yated Neeman on Thursday said that “following the serious
problems at IDF recruitment offices which have been reported, the issue is being
examined and dealt with in full severity by representatives of United Torah
As such, there is no change in the instructions of the Council
and yeshiva students should continue to present themselves to the IDF when
requested but not sign any documents, the notice continued.
meeting with Defense Ministry officials, Gafni and Litzman requested that
specific procedures be drawn up for the handling of haredi youth in IDF
recruitment offices in accordance with their haredi lifestyle.
to UTJ officials, the Defense Ministry officials promised to look into the
reports and to draw up guidelines for dealing with yeshiva students, saying that
they would make every effort to avoid such problems.
Because of the
concerns over the medical exams, warning notices were posted on Wednesday at
several yeshivas associated with leading haredi figure Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach
instructing yeshiva students not to present themselves at recruitment offices if
Such notices appeared at Maalot Hatorah Yeshiva, headed by
Auerbach, as well as the Ponvezeh yeshiva, a leading haredi institution, and
other yeshivot as well.
Auerbach has, however, been sidelined in the
ranks of the haredi spiritual leadership since losing a leadership struggle with
Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman earlier this year.
The Council of Torah
Sages, headed by Shteinman, issued its notice in Thursday’s Yated Neeman in
response to the warnings placed in the yeshivas connected to
Since the expiration of the Tal Law in August that allowed
full-time yeshiva students to indefinitely defer military service, hundreds of
recruitment notices have been sent out by the IDF to haredi youth born in 1994
and 1995 requesting that they present themselves at a recruiting office for the
preliminary stages of the enlistment process.
The Defense Ministry has
however said that actual enlistment will only begin in the summer of
Draft reform advocates have accused the Ministry of dragging its
feet on haredi enlistment so that, after the coming elections, the Knesset can
reconvene and pass new legislation to exempt the majority of yeshiva
According to another report in Yated Neeman on Thursday, Gafni
and Litzman declared that they would “continue to work [to ensure] that no
yeshiva student claiming the status of ‘Torah is his employment’ will be drafted
and [that he will be able] to continue studying Torah — his obligation and his
According to the Defense Ministry, 800 haredi boys born in 1995
and 1996 have presented themselves at IDF recruitment offices and 200 have
received enlistment orders for July 2013.