Leaders of the Chabad chassidic movement in Israel are expected to sign a deal with the IDF in upcoming days that will see young Chabad men enlist for three full years of service. Hareidi-religious men in Israel generally avoid IDF service completely.
The deal would allow the young men to first leave the country to study Torah at Chabad in New York City for a year, reversing the current situation in which they are required to remain in Israel. Young men who are eligible for IDF service but decline to enlist are generally required to remain in the country; an exemption once offered to Chabad was withdrawn over a decade ago.
After completing their studies, the men will enlist in the army.
Chabad sources who spoke to the Yisrael Hayom daily paper downplayed the importance of the agreement, noting that men in the Chabad movement already frequently enlist for at least partial IDF service.
IDF spokespeople told the paper that the agreement does not represent a new approach to enlistment, saying, “As part of the effort to increase enlistment in the IDF, military representatives meet with a variety of relevant leaders.”
However, other sources told the paper that Chabad recognizes the unique nature of the deal and is concerned over potential hostile reactions from other segments of the hareidi-religious world. “This sets a precedent in the hareidi world. For the first time, rabbis will support an agreement that will increase the IDF ranks,” one source said.