Last week, YWN reported that a number of frum IDF officer cadets were in hot water for politely walking out of a performance by women. They made a genuine effort to adhere to Halacha without interrupting the ongoing event, but that was insufficient for their commander, who ultimately demanded an apology for their actions.
The nine were split in their decision, and some decided to apologize and remain while the others refused, insisting adherence to Torah does not justify and apology, opting to be expelled from the officers training program.
One audible voice of objection was heard from Rabbi Re’em HaCohen, the rosh yeshiva of the Otniel Hesder Yeshiva, where most of the cadets learn. He condemned the move, stating that IDF guidelines are not in contradiction with Halacha and the officer simply acted inappropriately and without justification. He fell short however of publically criticizing IDF Chief Rabbi, Brigadier-General Rafi Eitan for his silence.
The Land of Israel Forum sent a stern letter to IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and IDF Judge Advocate General Major-General Avichai Mandelblitt demanding that the four who were expelled from the officers training course should be immediately reinstated. The letter points out that any officer or soldier for that matter has the basic right to live in accordance with his religion, a basic tenet of any democratic society, but in this case, this basic right was trampled.
The letter adds that demanding an apology was not acceptable, since they have nothing to apologize for. “What did they do wrong? That they preferred to adhere to their religion over remaining to take part in a non-essential army ceremony”.
The letter also warned that if the decision is not reversed, the forum will pursue legal channels.
Unconfirmed sources indicate that Rabbi Brig.-Gen. Eitan is expected to release a p’sak this week regarding kol isha in the military in light of this latest incident.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)