Religious officer cadets were forced to sit through a peformance that violates their religious principles last week, the father of one of the cadets says. The soldiers asked to sit out the performance, which featured two female singers and two male instrumentalists, but their commanders refused, telling them to plug their ears instead.
The father spoke with Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew language news magazine on condition of anonymity.
The event was held to mark the completion of the Officers’ Course at the Bahad 1 Base, he said. In the evening hours, the cadets assembled at a large hall, where they were to hold a summation meeting with the base commander and Battalion Commander.
When they were told that the female singers would perform, they asked to be excused for the duration of the performance, as Jewish Law prohibits males from hearing a woman singing, as a guard against possible immodest behavior.
According to the soldier’s father, the commanders refused and told the cadets no one could leave the hall: “If anyone has a problem he is welcome to plug his ears, and as far as the Battalion Commander is concerned, he can also bury his head between his knees.”
Some of the cadets did, indeed, use their fingers to plug their ears during the performance.
The IDF Spokesman’s Unit said in response that “female singing is permitted and common in ceremonies and events in the IDF, while taking into consideration the target audience and the character of the event.”
Rav Eliyahu Lax, Head of the Association for the Welfare of the Religious Soldier, reacted by noting that IDF commanders have the option to let soldiers sit out performances that violate their religious outlook. The rabbi explained that the commander of the preceding Bahad 1 battalion, a Druze, allowed religious soldiers to do just that, but the present commander, Uzi Kliger, “has embraced the culture of secular coercion that is common in Bahad 1, as part of his attempts to prove that he fits in with the system.”