Chief of staff begins search for new IDF rabbi

Chief of staff begins se

The IDF chief-of-staff's office has begun contacting possible candidates to replace IDF Chief Rabbi Brig.-Gen. Avichai Ronsky. One of the leading candidates to replace Ronsky is Rabbi Rafi Peretz, head of the pre-military yeshiva academy in Yated. Peretz told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday that he had been contacted by the chief-of-staff's office. "I am happy where I am right now," said Peretz, who is a combat helicopter pilot. "But we will see what the future brings." Peretz represents a more moderate rabbinical leadership which ardently opposes any form of insubordination. During the 2005 Gaza Disengagement he and his students at the Atzmona pre-military yeshiva academy symbolized an integrationist approach to combining religious adherence with selfless military service. They were filmed crying and dancing with IDF soldiers who came to evacuate the academy. In the summer Ronsky's first four-year stint in his position as IDF Chief Rabbi comes to an end, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided recently not to renew the position for a second four-year term. Ronsky has said in the past that he is not interested in a second term, according to sources close to the rabbi, who lives in Itamar, a settlement located near Nablus. According to Arutz 7, other candidates for the job include Rabbi Col. Shlomo Peretz, Ronsky's deputy and head of the IDF's kashrut department. Another candidate being considered is Rabbi Duki Ben-Artzi, a combat pilot, who is head of the IDF's Jewish Consciousness Department, which disseminates literature on Jewish identity, Judaism and their connection to military service. Ronsky has aroused controversy particularly among left-wing elements for his use of strongly Jewish messages as a means of strengthening combat morale. He has also come out against the service of women in combat units and against homosexuality on religious grounds. Meanwhile, Ronsky has also come under fire by right-wing settlement activists for giving halachic permission to carry out evacuations of Jewish settlements on Shabbat.