Officers unwanted at yeshiva J'lem Day

Rabbi Levanon notes decreased motivation of yeshiva students to join IDF.

With the trauma of disengagement still fresh in the minds and hearts of religious Zionists, and plans for additional evacuations of Jewish settlements in the offing, Rabbi Avraham Shapira has decided it would be inappropriate to invite IDF officers to Jerusalem Day celebrations at Yeshivat Mercaz Harav. In the past the yeshiva, which has produced the largest number of religious Zionist spiritual leaders and rabbis, has made a point of inviting high-ranking IDF officers to address students as part of its Jerusalem Day festivities. "Jerusalem Day commemorates our miraculous victory in the Six Day War and the joy of liberating the Land of Israel," said Rabbi Yehoshua Magnus, Shapira's close aide. "It's not fitting to celebrate this day with IDF officers who are planning to give back this redeemed land." Magnus added that there were many students in the yeshiva who had family and friends who were expelled from homes in Gaza and North Samaria. "How can you expect us to invite people who are responsible for the expulsion," said Magnus. In a related story, Rabbi Elyakim Levanon of Elon Moreh has warned that the IDF is gradually losing its legitimacy in the eyes of religious Zionist youth. Levanon quoted unnamed IDF sources that reported a fall in the motivation level of religious soldiers. "I have been privy to reports from objective IDF sources that soldiers lack the necessary enthusiasm to train properly," said Levanon. "The IDF has to reassess its [moral] situation," warned Levanon. "Otherwise it will end up completely losing the respect of the religious Zionist public." Levanon said that at his yeshiva more students had opted to postpone army service over hesder service.