Once again it appears being a Shomer Shabbat IDF soldier, or in this case an officers’ candidate has its challenges, especially when one’s officer cannot tolerate his frum soldiers walking out on a performance of female singers.
There are nine Orthodox soldiers in IDF’s Officer Training School, located in Base 1, and they recently became the target of the wrath of an officer who was unwilling to tolerate their decision to quietly walk out of a performance that simply violated Halacha. The soldiers are close to graduating as junior officers, second lieutenants in elite IDF units. They did not create a stir or attempt to disrupt the performance on the base, but quietly left their seats and walked out, and returned immediately after the objectionable portion of the program ended. It was clear to all they were attempting to remain respectful without compromising Halacha.
Despite their respectful behavior their brigade commander was less than sympathetic, rejecting their explanation. They were ordered to appear before Colonel Eren Niv, their battalion commander. It should be pointed out that the very same brigade commander in another situation a number of weeks ago told frum soldiers at another performance if they don’t wish to hear the female vocalists they should use earplugs but they may not leave.
According to the commander of IDF ground forces Major-General Sammy Turgeman, the IDF is compelled to accommodate one’s religious sensibilities. In addition, a letter was sent by Eliyahu Lacks, who heads the Religious IDF Soldiers’ Fund to Major-General Turgeman, questioning just why religious soldiers are placed in such an untenable situation. He pointed out that in accordance to the General Staff’s rules and regulations, the soldiers are indeed entitled to serve without compromising their religious beliefs.
Former IDF Chief Rabbi Brigadier-General (reserves) Avichai Ronsky confirmed this, that a soldier is protected under the IDF’s operating guidelines, emphasizing that a soldier simply may not be compelled to attend a performance of female vocalists. This is his right and excusing him from such an event is not an act of chessed by any means but IDF law.
A statement released by the Office of the IDF Spokesman states the nine soldiers did in fact stray from adherence to regulations. The matter is being investigated and a ruling is expected in the coming days. It appears the brigade commander wishes to expel them from the officers’ training program.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)