The head of a haredi educational watchdog group has stated that children should not dress up in IDF uniforms for the upcoming Purim holiday, because of the current efforts by the government to draft haredi men into military service.
Rabbi Mordechai Bloi, the head of an organization called the Guardians of Sanctity and Education, said dressing up in an IDF uniform was inappropriate at a time when the government was trying to force haredi men into the army against their will.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Bloi noted first that the tradition of dressing up on Purim is an ancient tradition with mystical allusions to the hidden hand of God in the events surrounding the holiday and human history in general, and is supposed to increase the happiness of people celebrating the festival.
“Dressing up in an IDF uniform when the issue of haredi enlistment is being used as a stick to beat the haredi community with does not increase happiness at this time,” said Bloi.
“Would people from Gush Katif dress up like Ariel Sharon?” he asked.
Equally, he claimed that the main goal of efforts to draft haredim into the army is to secularize them and make them “Israeli, not Jewish.”
Combining the symbolism of the IDF uniform with the religious symbolism of costumes on Purim was not acceptable in the current circumstances, Bloi said.
“The extremist secular leaders like Yair Lapid want to change the haredi community and make it secular.
“This is a red rag to us, so we wanted to disseminate to the community that this year such costumes should not be worn and people should not buy them from the stores.”
More broadly, Bloi criticized the current efforts of the government to draft haredim, saying that the methods being used were counterproductive.
“We do not disparage the soldiers of the IDF; they do holy work. But if the politicians use the issue as a symbol against the haredi community and to secularize them, no one will go,” he said, adding that if a man is married, has finished his religious studies and gets permission from his rabbi, it is acceptable for him to do national service.
The rabbi continued saying that the current attempts by the government to legislate haredi enlistment allow the extremists in the haredi community to dictate the agenda.
Riots instigated by hardline haredi leaders broke out last week in several locations around the country in opposition to enlistment legislation and a freeze in the government- paid stipends for some yeshiva students.
Recent years have witnessed an increase in haredi enlistment into specially designed IDF tracks which try to ensure that men from the community can preserve their haredi lifestyle, including minimal, or a complete lack, of contact with women, strictly kosher food and other requirements for haredi men.