Rabbonim and elected officials affiliated with the dati leumi community have condemned IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-General Gadi Eizenkott’s decision to place authority for the military’s Jewish Consciousness Unit in the hands of the Manpower Branch, a unit that has operated under the IDF Rabbinate. Rabbonim and others accuse Eizenkott of acquiescing to pressure from a certain left-wing newspaper. MK (Bayit Yehudi) Betzalel Smotrich responded as well, saying it would be better to shut the unit down.
Smotrich adds “Since the establishment of the state the responsibility for the unit has been under the IDF Rabbinate. Yiddishkheit has never just been about giving out wine and challos for Shabbos but an entire world of values and ethics that the Rabbinate instills in fighters and commanders in the field and this has been successful over the years. Most soldiers and commanders in the field are happy with the military chaplaincy and feel it motivates professionalism and a fighting spirit”.
Former IDF Chief Rabbi Yisrael Weiss said “This ends the IDF’s neshama”.
Former IDF Chief Rabbi Avichai Ronsky added the placement of the unit in the hands of non-Torah Jews is an error that will have serious consequences. He fears this is opening a door to bringing in Reform Rabbis to work with soldiers instead of members of the IDF Rabbinate as has been the case to date.
Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, who heads the Zomet Institute feels it would be better to shut the unit down rather than place it in the hands of persons who are not shomer Torah and Mitzvos.
Rabbi Chaim Druckman laments the decision, pointing out the unit works with non-frum soldiers and its work is vital and the reassigning of authority to those who are not frum will have a devastating negative impact on the overall Jewish character of the military.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)