The Military Rabbinate has issued a decree forbidding soldiers from reciting the "Avinu Malkeinu" prayer in IDF synagogues. This comes after soldiers, encouraged by ultra-Orthodox rabbis like Ovadia Yosef, recently recited the prayer, as a way of protesting the universal draft proposal.
Military Rabbinate personnel have been instructed to forbid the use of the prayer in "public forums" out of its usual timeframe, the Ten Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Military rabbis have been tasked with enforcing this decree.
"We still have to see if the haredi soldiers will obey the Military Rabbinate or follow the civilian rabbis," said a source from the Military Rabbinate. "It's appropriate that they make a choice which separates the IDF from the public debate about the draft and enables those who wish to pray regularly to continue doing so."
Army sources said "This was just a one-time incident in which soldiers added the 'Avinu Malkeinu' to the standard prayer. Once the Military Rabbinate found out, they took steps to ensure that it won't happen again."
The army has been keeping a low profile on the universal draft debate. Senior IDF officers have avoided speaking in public about the issue in an effort to keep the IDF out of the political arena.
This stands in contrast to the unilateral support for the universal draft expressed by Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, speaking at a high school last December.
Amir Vaknin of the haredi division of the IDF's Manpower Directorate said in an interview recently that "the IDF cannot capitulate to the haredim. If the government gives the green-light we'll be ready to integrate them. We'll work in coordination with the time frame and draft locations. The hardeim are a niche. If their integration hurts anyone else, then they will have to step back. We won't take women out of units for the sake of the haredim."