IDF officer: No place for rabbis at swearing-in ceremonies

By JTA
March 15, 2015 02:50
1 minute read.

 
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The army’s chief education officer recommended that rabbis no longer be allowed to speak at swearing-in ceremonies for recruits. The recommendation by Brig.-Gen. Avner Paz-Tzuk was revealed on Wednesday night, when a screenshot of an undated letter that Paz-Tzuk sent to Maj.-Gen. Hagai Topolansky, who heads the IDF’s Manpower Directorate, appeared on the news site rotter.net.

The letter comes amid a polarizing debate about the role of religion in the public sphere in general and especially in the IDF, which has traditionally been regarded as the country’s melting pot.

“I believe it is flawed that the central figures in the ceremony, alongside the unit commander, are the corps rabbi and the unit rabbi. The ceremony is not religious and there is no reason for it to appear religious,” he wrote.

Paz-Tzuk recommended canceling all public functions for rabbis at swearing-ins, proposing that one of the recruits’ commanders, instead of the rabbi, reads from the Bible.

“The rabbinate does not have exclusivity over the Bible,” he wrote. “There is no reason for a rabbi, of all people, to speak at a swearing-in ceremony for the IDF and the state,” he added.

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