Amended bill allows only Orthodox IDF chief chaplain

IDF chief chaplain will move from observer status to full-fledged member of the 17-rabbi council.

The Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee on Tuesday approved a bill that would make the IDF chief chaplain a member of the Chief Rabbinate Council.
Sponsored by MK Uri Ariel (National Union) and seven others, the bill would change the observer status of the IDF chief chaplain to a full-fledged member of the 17- rabbi body, which serves primarily as an advisory panel to the two chief rabbis, who head the council.
The rationale behind Ariel’s bill is that given the large scope of the responsibilities relating to Jewish law in the army, and the large numbers of conversions in the IDF, the chief chaplain should become an inherent part of the state’s rabbinate.
In a hearing on the bill in the same committee last month, committee chairman David Azoulay (Shas) and others expressed concern that the bill, as then written, could allow a Reform rabbi to be appointed IDF chief chaplain and effectively become part of the Chief Rabbinate Council.
An amendment to the bill presented on Tuesday stipulates that an IDF chief rabbi who would be a member of the council must be confirmed by the council as a rabbi.
The bill now goes to the Knesset plenum for its second and third readings.