The conflict peaked when the base commander, Colonel Aharon Haliwa, rejected the Military Rabbinate's proposed for the courts.
Military Rabbinate officials blamed officers’ course commanders for attempting to control the rabbis’ course, a trend they claimed started last year, and which requires them to emit or alter contents pertaining to “Halachic views on military and war” and classes on “Jewish consciousness."
The Military Rabbinate opened its new track in the summer of 2007. The course trains Yeshiva graduates who served in combat units to be battalion rabbis in reserves. The first course, which was considered a “pilot” took place at Army Training Base 1, lasted for six weeks and had 109 graduates.
'Accelerated course inappropriate'
The accelerated course not only angered civilian rabbinical official, who were shocked by the act of ordaining someone a rabbi without qualification and in such a short time, but also the officers’ course commanders.
In the last few days, Col. Haliwa rejected the final proposition presented by the rabbinate and requested that the course’s organizers create an altered schedule re-dividing the course’s religious and military material.
An additional struggle was noted last year surrounding the identities of the rabbinate course’s commanders. Then too, Haliwa was victorious with his insistence that participants of the course will be officers’ course graduate; blocking the possibility of allowing veteran military rabbis apply for the position, since only some of them were cadets in the course.
Last year, religion officers commanded over the rabbis’ course, to the Military Rabbinate’s dismay. This year, the rabbinate asked to integrate as many religious soldiers as possible in the instruction staff.
A Military Rabbinate official protested the IDF’s intentions to “use” rabbinate course graduates for other tasks in the future. He told Ynet that the IDF is the one insisting to include as much content as possible from the regular officers’ course in the rabbinate’s course.
“We must remember that these cadets are designated to be reserve officers and not as part of an army career service. For this reason, I don’t understand what all the ruckus is about.
"Civilian doctors and lawyers who want to do reserve duties in their respective fields are required to undergo an officers’ course, which is also short and accelerated. But in these cases, no one would think about the option of waiving professional content relevant to their tasks in order to teach them how to navigate in the field a little better.”
According to him, the feeling is that because the Military Rabbinate is connected to the Army Personnel Management Unit, someone in the upper echelons is interested in “using” them for other tasks in the unit.
Lieutenant Colonel (Res.) Pinchas Yizhak, a former senior officer in the Military Rabbinate said to Ynet that “Chief Military Rabbi Avichai Ronsky needs to insist upon maintaining the rabbinical and religious contents and to make sure that they are the primary focus of the course. This is what we did at Army Training Base 11, where there too, we did not neglect any of the military subjects including navigation, etc.”
In response, the IDF said that the new course contains two parts. A basic stage of officers’ course and a corps supplement in which contents needed to full the position of a reserves military rabbi are taught.
The course was built by the Military Rabbinate in cooperation with Army Training Base 1. The IDF emphasized that “the course is being conducted in full cooperation and with identical interests and there is no substantial dispute, especially in regards to the content.”