Religious Zionist educator tells students to avoid mixed-gender IDF units

Har Ezion Yeshiva Dean Yaaqov Medan says pained to tell flock to avoid armored corps, claims military violates agreements, positions women to serve with men in violation of Jewish religious law

Kobi Nachshoni, Korin Elbaz Alush |
A prominent religious Zionist educator told his flock Monday that serving in mixed-gender armored corps units is off-limits.
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  • Rabbi Yaaqov Medan, who stands at the head of Yeshivat Har Etzion on the West Bank, said the presence of females prohibits religious men from participating, according to Jewish law and accused the military of violating prior agreements to separate men and women.
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    הרב יעקב מדן
    הרב יעקב מדן
    Rabbi Yaaqov Medan
    (Photo: Gershon Elison)
    "We struggle to air our grievances, now that the armored corps' officer training is in contradiction with Jewish law and therefore prevents you from serving," he said in a letter to his students.
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    Women serving in the IDF armored corps during training
    (Photo: Gadi Kabalo)
    He apologized to them for previously encouraging military service in the corps. "This is partially our fault for believing what the military said," Medan wrote.
    "We all hope for better days, when religious soldiers will not be prevented from serving in combat units and when the IDF honors its promises."
    Medan's letter sparked backlash which prompted him to issue a follow-up statement. "It is an inalienable part of us, and we must always be committed to the most useful and dedicated service."
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    חיילים מתפללים
    חיילים מתפללים
    Religious soldiers pray
    (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
    Har Etzion Yeshiva is one of the largest and most established Torah institutions of the religious Zionist movement and has been considered moderate.
    Medan's unusual letter indicates a rift between IDF high command and religious Zionist leaders and will likely be echoed by other educators.
    The IDF spokesperson said in response that Medan's claims are untrue and religious men were given the option of participating in officer training in separate units, under the supervision of the military rabbinate.
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