The unilateral move, which was not coordinated with the Hesder Yeshiva Union, may lead to the cancellation of the next class of students in the "hesder" track, combining army service with Torah studies.
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The decision caused an uproar among leading rabbis, but the army said Sunday that the status of yeshiva students will not be hurt. The IDF service of hesder students is usually deferred until they complete their first year of studies.
After joining the program, the yeshiva students officially become soldiers and serve for four years: A year and a half of active duty and two and a half years of Torah studies that is considered "service without pay."
The army service of first year Hesder yeshiva students was deferred until July, so that they would be able to join the hesder program in June. Now, apparently due to a shortage in manpower in the March draft, the hesder yeshiva students were instructed to report for duty next month.
In an "urgent message" sent to the heads of hesder yeshivas, the Hesder Yeshiva Union said: "The army has a great shortage of soldiers in the upcoming March draft for a number of reasons. Therefore, it has decided to send draft notices to first-year students whose service was deferred. The army brought their draft forward without the Union's knowledge or cooperation."
A senior official at the hesder yeshivas told Ynet, "The army knows it can recruit thousands of young haredim who drop out (of yeshivas) to fill the manpower quota, but it does not dare to do it. Instead it recruits hesder yeshiva students who chose to combine their Torah studies with army service."
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