Leading religious-Zionist rabbis meet with Eisenkot over concerns for religious soldiers

The protocol tightened regulations allowing religious soldiers to be exempted from IDF ceremonies and recreational activities which involve women singing was one concern.

January 3, 2017 18:57
1 minute read.

Religious IDF soldiers pray near the Gaza border on July 23.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Leading rabbis from the Association of Hesder Yeshivas met with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Gadi Eisenkott on Tuesday evening to discuss ongoing concerns with the army’s treatment of religious soldiers.

The rabbis comprise the association’s Army Committee, which includes Rabbi Haim Druckman, chairman of the Bnei Akiva Yeshivot and a leading figure in the religious- Zionist community.

Tuesday’s meeting, which was the first time Eisenkott has met with the committee, was expected to deal with concerns over a the new protocol for joint male and female service issued in October last year. The protocol tightened regulations allowing religious soldiers to be exempted from ceremonies and recreational activities involving women singing, or mixed gender events inappropriate for some soldiers.

The protocol does not permit religious officers to be exempted from being placed in a mixed-gender unit.

Other issues that have generated tension between the army and the religious community are efforts by the IDF to integrate women into tank units, which came to light late last year, has caused further uproar among the religious-Zionist rabbinical leadership; and a new protocol that tightened regulations allowing for religious soldiers to grow a beard; and the transfer of the Jewish Identity branch of the IDF Rabbinate to the IDF Education Corps.

Meanwhile, the Movement for a Jewish State, a national- religious lobbying group, filed a petition to the High Court of Justice earlier this week demanding that the appointment of incoming head of the IDF Manpower Directorate Moti Almoz be canceled due to what it describes as his insensitive handling of religious issues in his current role as head IDF spokesman.

The Manpower Directorate has control over the IDF Education Corp., and given the transfer of the Jewish Identity branch to the Education Corp, the new head of the Manpower Directorate has become a loaded issue for elements within the religious-Zionist community.

Despite these issues, a spokesman for the Association of Hesder Yeshivas said that in general there were good relations between the IDF and the religious-Zionist rabbinical leadership, but that the rabbis felt that certain issues require more urgent attention than they have been getting until now.

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