Rabbi Aviner: Support religious girls who enlisted to IDF
One of notable rabbis of national-religious movement doesn't permit enlistment of religious girls, but 'praises and supports' girls who decide to join ranks of IDF. Maj.-Gen. Stern: Religious girls' service contributes to solidarity of nation. Non-profit organization established to guide religious girls through military service
In the flier, Rabbi Aviner wrote: "Every religious woman soldier is called to be a loyal emissary of the Master of the Universe, in her personal behavior and in fulfilling her role in our holy army." Rabbi Aviner's statements represent a higher rank in regards to the religious community's relation to girls who decided to enlist in the IDF.
The enlistment of girls to the army is considered forbidden by Jewish law according to the rabbis and accepted adjudicators of in the national-religious movement.
However, according to statistics from the past few years showing that about a third of religious girls prefer to enlist in the IDF anyway, it was understood in the national-religious society that it is forbidden to denounce these girls, in order to keep them in the framework of religious society.
In this context, the non-profit Aluma was established four years ago in partnership with the Defense Ministry in order to provide direction and guidance, and to answer the special needs of religious girls enlisting to military service, that is so fundamentally different than their way of life they are familiar with until they enlist. The organization is meant to help religious girls maintain their religious identity and values throughout their service.
For the Director-general of Aluma Yifat Sela, it is important to clarify that Rabbi Aviner "didn't give permission for religious women to enlist in the IDF, rather that he says that if a religious girl is already serving in the army, she is still religious. In conversations with him, he keeps on emphasizing that he doesn't know any ruling in Jewish law that permits girls to enlist in the military, but he claims that the mission to maintain Jewish values is still upon them even in the army."
A letter published by Rabbi Aviner about a year and a half ago sheds some light on his approach to the issue of recruiting religious girls to the IDF. In this letter, published in the flier "In love and in faith" distributed in synagogues, Rabbi Aviner wrote that he understands that some girls enlist to the military out of sense of mission, but defined the same religious girl enlisted in the military as "mistaken in mitzvah."
He added, "We say to the religious woman soldiers: We don't agree with you, you know that, but you are one of us."
Alongside Rabbi Aviner, there are the statements of Major-General Elazar Stern, head of the IDF Human Resources Directorate. About religious girls in the army, he wrote, "The importance of the solidarity of the nation has been revealed in abundance as of late. Your service in the IDF is part of the same cohesion contributing to this closeness."
Girls' service especially sensitive
In the national-religious community, the issue of girls' enlistment to the IDF is considered especially sensitive. As much as high school meeting encourage the boys to enlist in the highest quality fighting units possible, the situation for girls is different. Military service for girls is considered forbidden by Jewish law by the rabbis and the accepted adjudicators in the national-religious community.
Religious educational institutions for girls don't allow IDF representatives to visit and to guide the girls in preparation for military service. These institutions explain that it is preferable that the girls serve in a year of national service, seen as more suitable for a religious lifestyle than the military.
What do the girls who enlisted to the IDF have to say? Sharon, the young religious girl who served in the army as a commander of a artillery instructors course company, explains the difficulty found within military service for the religious girl. "It is mainly in the completely secular atmosphere," she explained. "You need to maintain religious character, but in the dressing rooms they dress differently, talk differently – it's not a religious experience."