In the latest IDF affront to religious Jews and rabbonim, IDF Chief Education Officer Brigadier-General Avner Paz-Tzuk released a letter seeking to determine if rabbonim may be barred from official swearing-in ceremonies. Making worse perhaps is that he is not referring to non-military rabbonim because in his letter he makes specific reference to the rabbis serving in the IDF on different levels, such a platoon rav or even the rav of a battalion. The senior officer explains the presence of the rabbonim at a non-religious ceremony leaves him with a bad taste, of using his language, “A taam lifgam” (טעם לפגם). This is the officer selected by the IDF to oversee and approve all educational content given to soldiers.
In his internal letter, the senior commander expresses his desire to change protocol towards removing the rabbinical presence from military ceremonies. He adds that a solder can read pesukim from Tanach and the rabbonim are not needed for this.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)
Why is everyone getting so upset? Israel is a secular state. It only has clergy in the Army because “that is what armies do”, not because anyone is convinced that they are needed
Not only is Israel a secular state, but its one founded on the principle of “freedom from religion”. Its even in its national anthem. The army rabbinate’s job has been to keep religious soldiers from become rebellious, which would happen if they had to make their own arrangements for things such as kosher food, Shabbos, etc.
In America, which very early adopted the idea “freedom of/and for religion”, military chaplains are there to serve the soldiers and support the (albeit limited) accomodation of religious beliefs. Its no accident that American chaplains work primarily in close association with medial and social service parts of the military bureaucracy.
Of course, if next week’s election forces Israel to abolish conscription (in order to get hareidim in a coalition), the army might want to re-focus on trying to attract religious Jews (with carrots, rather than sticks), and the role of the rabbinate would change immediately.
To a. Kuperman
Rabbis in the army provide shiurim, ensure kashrut, and a host of other services that jewish soldiers who are interested require.
Your comment is way off – as they usually are.