Once again there is a stir in the military, this time surrounding a program implemented by the army’s Chief Rabbinate, intended to accommodate the needs of frum soldiers.
The military rabbonim realized that soldiers wishing to distance themselves from unsuitable lodging are in a quandary, since if they opt to spend their time off in one of the LIBI Fund vacation centers, they will encounter mixed swimming and female soldiers, frequently dressed most inappropriately to put it mildly.
The Rabbanut has decided to arrange for separate vacation locations for frum soldiers who would like to go swimming and be surrounded by a Torah atmosphere and not the opposite G-d forbid. The vacation areas offer shiurim, minyanim and an opportunity to relax.
The stir began when the IDF’s chief education officer learned of the new option, sending an angry letter to a number of senior officers in which he decried the new reality, stating the soldiers serve at each other’s side and as such, they must vacation together. He accused the Rabbanut of creating a chasm between soldiers and dividing the ranks.
Joining in is IDF Chief of Human Resources, Major-General Elazar Stern, a Shomer Shabbos Jew, who demanded a high-level meeting to discuss the problem.
Colonel Hetzi Halevy, who stands at the helm of the helm of the Paratroopers, opposes the separate vacation, stating soldiers who serve together must vacation together too.
The IDF Chief Rabbinate explains that the frum soldiers must be permitted the same ability to relax as other soldiers without having to compromise their way of life and beliefs.
The Office of the IDF Spokesperson stated that there is no directive compelling frum soldiers to vacation separately. It has been learned that in a number of cases, soldiers did opt to vacation in the separate facility. The IDF Chief Rabbinate will clarify that there is no directive prohibiting frum soldiers from vacationing with others should they so decide.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)