Hesder yeshiva heads, who in the past fiercely opposed the notion of a longer army service for their students, have recently agreed to have the service extended.
The new four-year program, which was launched this week and is one year shorter than the current program, includes a longer term of military service and a significantly shorter period of Torah studies.
The program was recently approved by the heads of the hesder yeshivot and the IDF. While in the existing program the length of army service is 16 months and yeshiva studies take up three and-a-half years, the new program offers two years of army service and two years of Torah studies.
The Hesder Yeshivot Association explained that the new course, titled "Bnei Torah," will assist the army with tackling manpower shortage and the drop in recruitment rates among the general population.
The association heads stressed that the program will operate alongside the older program and will provide an alternative to those young religious students who are less inclined to study Torah.
"An entire population of students who in the past were deterred by the length of the program and the substantial amount of time dedicated to studying, will now be able to join a program more suited to their needs," said Eitan Ozeri, the association's director general.