Religious woman covering face behind bars.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Chief Rabbinate has reiterated its opposition to religious women serving in
the army, following the initiative of Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel
It emerged on Thursday that during a December meeting of the
Council of the Chief Rabbinate, 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.
been a longstanding position of the Chief Rabbinate, but the reiteration came
due to the growing numbers of religious girls who are enlisting.
who belongs to the conservative wing of the national-religious movement, has of
late embarked on a strong campaign against religious girls serving in the army
in light of that trend.
According to what The Jerusalem Post
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
According to Army Radio, Eliyahu said during the meeting that
the conscription of women was part of a plan designed to erase the Jewish
character of the state.
Last month, he wrote a letter to the principals
of national-religious girls’ schools, calling on them to oppose IDF service for
“Military service brings the girls into encounters and
situations that are not appropriate and that harm the sensitivities of religious
girls, sometimes even physically,” he wrote at the time. “Military service is
not fitting for a Jewish girl.”
Criticism of the Chief Rabbinate and
Eliyahu came from several quarters on Thursday, with Hatnua MK Elazar Stern
accusing them of being out of touch with Israeli society.
rabbis come out against the increasing numbers of religious girls enlisting in
the IDF, it just demonstrates their standing and their [lack of] connection to
Israeli society and its true challenges,” he said.
Beit Hillel, a
moderate national-religious association of rabbis, said that the “war being
waged by rabbis against the increasing number of religious girls enlisting
simply reduces their relevance to the girls.”
The organization added that
“instead of fighting against them, rabbis should educate them to [perform]
substantial service for the State of Israel and give them the direction and
spiritual support, whether they decide to do the national service program or
whether they decide to enlist in the IDF.”