The General Staff forum also determined that religious soldiers would be forced to attend official ceremonies even if they include women performers.
During a meeting convened Monday by IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz to examine the combined service of men and women, it was decided that any rabbi's visit to a base or military post must be approved in advance by the chief military rabbi, and that a representative on his behalf would be present at the rabbi's meeting with his students.
Heads of hesder yeshivot and military preparatory courses were outraged at the decision. Former Chief Military Rabbi Avichai Ronsky and head of the Itamar yeshiva, told Ynet that the decision expressed lack of faith in the rabbis – a move which could undermine relations between the army and the religious sector.
"I have never heard of such a thing. It's weird, and mostly unwise," he said.
"After all, these are state institutions – hesder yeshivot and military preparatory courses – and the vast majority of rabbis are in no disagreement with the army, not even about the 'exclusion of women' issue. And they are the ones who will be supervised? They need the chief military rabbi's approval to meet with their students?"
The former chief military rabbi said he understood that the Chief Rabbinate, as a host, may take part in the meetings and that this was only natural, but that the main problem was the wording of the decision, which suggests the thought behind it.
"I wonder if members of the Kibbutz Movement's security committee will also be subject to such 'supervision' when they arrive to visit their soldiers," he said.
Rabbi Cherlow: I won't visit IDF bases
Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, head of the Petah Tikva hesder yeshiva, was surprised at the decision as well. "If this is the condition for me meeting my students – I just won't visit the base anymore. I won't be supervised by the army."
The rabbi stressed that he understood the IDF's fear of certain rabbis who may convey problematic messages to their students, but argued that "the solution is not political commissars standing and supervising the meetings."
Cherlow added that the General Staff must request that the yeshiva heads avoid making any statements harming the army when they visit its facilities, and that he was convinced they would accept.
"You don't solve a small problem by stating that from now on rabbis will be supervised," he added. "I have nothing to hide of course, and anyone wishing to listen to what I have to say is invited to attend the meetings – but not as a supervisor. It's more ridiculous than it is insulting."
Women's singing a must in formal events
Ynet learned Monday that the General Staff forum decided to adopt a special committee's recommendation to excuse religious soldiers from informal events which include women's singing.
The committee, headed by IDF Personnel Directorate chief Major-General Orna Barbivai, also determined that religious soldiers should not be allowed to leave an official event where women are invited to perform.
However, commanders will be authorized to excuse religious soldiers from cultural events that feature such performances.