Female field intelligence soldiers on duty
Female field intelligence soldiers on duty
Photo: Haim Horenstein
Female field intelligence soldiers on duty

Female Israeli soldiers subjected to bible lessons on the job

Lectures are conducted by civilian wife of a rabbi, whose authorization to enter sensitive military site is unclear despite strict IDF regulations; sessions include lessons on a woman's duties to her husband; IDF army says matter will be investigated

Yoav Zitun |
Published: 01.18.20 , 09:51
Once every two weeks, the civilian wife of a rabbi enters an IDF base located along the Egyptian border to give bible lessons to female field intelligence soldiers while they're on duty, according to testimonies provided to Ynet by several reservists who have served at the base.
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  • The lessons take place despite the IDF's explicit prohibition on allowing unauthorized persons to enter sensitive military areas.
    Female field intelligence soldiers on duty Female field intelligence soldiers on duty
    Female field intelligence soldiers on duty
    (Photo: Haim Horenstein)
    The lesson take place "while the female soldiers are glued to their monitors and track everything happening along the border fence – with full vigilance without distractions," reads one of the statements.
    "The rabbi's wife is giving them lectures on subjects such as 'the correct attitude of a wife to her husband under rabbinic law' and 'abstention and fasting'," the statement says.
    One reservist who was present for one of these lectures says that the soldiers are essentially a captive audience, as they are not allowed to leave their posts, and have to listen whether they choose to or not.
    According to testimonies, the rabbi's wife enters the base escorted by an officer to the command center - an area of very extreme sensitivity.
    תצפיתניות בסיס ערער רמת הגולןתצפיתניות בסיס ערער רמת הגולן
    A female field intelligence soldiers
    (Photo: IDF)
    Other than the television screens present, which show everything happening in real time along the border fence, the walls and the tables inside the central command room are filled with orders and directives procedures in the event of a security emergency.
    IDF officials say that the matter will be investigated.
    "The rabbi's wife said she had security clearance given to her by an army official," said a source familiar with the matter.
    "But the division central command and the Paran Brigade central command, the brigade which oversees the region, said they were unaware of her activities," the source said.
    "Neither was her entry permit to the base itself recognized by regimental officers, which are responsible for the decommissioning and entry permits for all non-military entities."
    IDF Chief Rabbi Eyal Karim with President Reuven Rivlin IDF Chief Rabbi Eyal Karim with President Reuven Rivlin
    IDF Chief Rabbi Eyal Karim with President Reuven Rivlin
    (Photo: GPO)
    In recent years, the Military Rabbinate, which is responsible for all religious affairs in the IDF, has initiated reforms to regulate the issue and align with the contents approved by the Education and Youth Corps.
    The authority to approve civilian religious bodies lies within the Military Rabbinate, which provides permits at its discretion. This is in contrast to previous situations in which religious classes were conducted - sometimes against the will of the soldiers - by rabbis who entered bases on their own or at the behest of local command officers.
    The Secular Forum, an Israeli non-profit against religious coercion, accused the army of failing in its duty of care to its soldiers.
    "It is a travesty that the IDF allows religious women on its bases to give classes to all of its soldiers - including ones who are secular - without any supervision or control; the IDF is abandoning its soldiers, as a captive audience, to missionaries," the organization said.
    The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said that no soldiers were forced to attend the lectures against their will.
    "The aforementioned classes on religious issues were approved by the relevant IDF officials and are held for the soldiers only interested in attending such classes, in full coordination with their commanders," the Spokesperson's Unit said.
    "We note that granting the lecturer entrance to the base is contrary to the regulations of the Chief Rabbi of the IDF. The event is being investigated, and the Military Rabbinate will clarify procedures for all the lecturers on its behalf."

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