IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz has appointed Maj. Gen. (res.) Yishai Bar to head a team that will decide the controversy surrounding the army’s Yizkor memorial prayer for fallen soldiers. Bar is also a professor of law at Hebrew University.
The other members of the team will be Chief Military Rabbi, Maj. Gen. Rafi Peretz, the Head Officer for Education and Youth, Brig. Gen. Eli Sharmeister, and Col. Yair Ben Shalom, who is in charge of the Authority for Casualties and Urban Officers (The IDF’s Urban Officers are the ones who notify families of the death of a loved one).
The team will consult with all relevant bodies and people as it sees fit and will hand in its recommendations to the General Staff.
Maj. Gen. (res.) Bar wears a knit kippah – the head-covering typically worn by religious Zionists. He studied at Netiv Meir Yeshiva in Jerusalem, in the same class as two other future IDF generals: Elazar Stern and Yair Naveh, as well as Rav Rafi Peretz.
More than 54,000 people have signed an online petition against the Yizkor text which begins with the words “May G-d remember…”. The initiator of the petition believed the text was recently changed from an earlier secular version that does not invoke G-d. That version begins with the words "May the Nation of Israel remember...". However, this claim appears to be mistaken: the Chief of Staff's Office has made clear that the text invoking G-d has been the official IDF Yizkor text since 1967
The Tzohar Rabbis have suggested a compromise version
that would refer both to G-d and the Nation of Israel.