Military correspondent Carmela Menashe gave the following report, aired on Israel Radio Reshet Bet during the program hosted on Tuesday morning by Yaron Dekel.
According to the report, female soldiers taking part in the main Yomtov seder in the ‘Kirya’ (Defense Ministry) were prohibited from reading aloud from the haggada by a ‘chareidi rabbi’ leading the seder. IDF Chief Rabbi Brigadier-General Avichai Ronsky has appointed an officer of the rank of lieutenant colonel to head the investigation into the allegations.
According to Menashe, the seder in question was the main one offered in the Defense Ministry, attended by dozens of soldiers and officers of various ranks. She explained participants were military personnel unable to go home for the Yomtov, therefore compelled to take part in this seder.
When a number of female soldiers wished to recite portions of the haggada, they were told by the rav running the seder “you may recite the haggada in your hearts, but not in an audible voice”.
The rabbi who headed the seder was a civilian, described as one wearing ‘chareidi apparel’.
Brigadier-General (reserves) Yehudit Ben-Natan, of the former Women’s Corps, expressed outrage over the incident, stating in all honesty, the fault lies with the many officers who participated, of the rank of major and lt.-colonel, who should have intervened on behalf of the soldiers since the military decides on the actual ‘regulations of the seder’, not a civilian rabbi, who apparently volunteered his services.
DEKEL: Perhaps his intentions were good.
BEN-NATAN: Perhaps, but perhaps he wished to bring his hashkafa to a wider audience, not just in his home.
In an official response released by the IDF Spokesman, the military states the seder was to have been headed by a military and civilian rav. Prior to beginning, the civilian rav was informed that females will be actively participating. It appears the incident occurred when the military rav stepped out for a brief period. Rav Ronsky has ordered an investigation. It should also be pointed out that the military rabbinate supports and encourages participation from male and female soldiers to take part in seder and haggada”.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)