Former Chief Military Rabbi Gad Navon passed away Sunday in his Yavne home. He was 84 at the time of his death. Navon retired from the Israel Defence Forces in 2000, after serving as head chaplain for 23 years.
Navon was born in Morocco and received his rabbinical training there. In 1948, he immigrated to Israel and served as a fighter in the Negev division of the Palmach (Jewish resistance movement). In 1950, he was appointed chaplain of Southern Command. In 1965, he served as a member of the military court under Rabbi Shlomo Goren.
Following his service in the Six Day War as deputy to Rabbi Mordechai Piron, Navon achieved the rank of Brigadier General in 1971. In 1977, he was appointed as head military chaplain and received the rank of Major General. After his retirement, he was replaced by Rabbi Israel Weiss.
As head military chaplain, Navon had authority over the military rabbinate, the body responsible for all religious institutions in the military. The rabbinate is responsible for burial of fallen IDF soldiers, including identification of the slain, management of military funerals and preservation of Halachic principles in this respect.
Additionally, the rabbinate ensures the maintenance of kashrut on IDF bases, oversees marriage or divorce proceedings during military service, and makes rulings on issues regarding religion in the military.
Rabbi Navon was known for his unexpected decision to declare as slain the three kidnapped soldiers from the Sultan Ya'akov battle, despite his strong tendency to refrain from declaring soldiers as dead without knowing their place of burial.