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      IDF to Hareidim: No Need to Watch Female Singers

      Officer denies press reports, says religious soldiers will be allowed to absent themselves from events
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 1/11/2012, 6:17 PM

      Shachar conference
      Shachar conference
      Yoni Kempinski

      Col. Yoav Bar-Sela, who is responsible for the Shachar Kachol program for hareidim in the IAF, denied this week that hareidi soldiers would have to watch entertainment by female singers.

      The comment indicates that the IDF is backtracking from recommendations reportedly made by a committee headed by Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai, the Head of Personnel Section, according to which soldiers will only be allowed to opt out of entertainment if their commanders decide to let them do so.

      He said that he is also speaking on behalf of Maj. Gen. Barbivai.

      Bar-Sela spoke before hareidi officers and NCOs in a conference at Tel Aviv's Kirya district Sunday. He said that the rules of Shachar Kachol would remain unchanged.

      Religious soldiers will be allowed to ask to be excused from an event that includes female singing. However, he added, they will have to do so before the show starts – not when it is in progress.

      The Organization for the Religious Soldier (ORS) responded positively to the development, and said the instructions would prevent unnecessary confrontations.

      "After the personal stamp of approval from the Head of Personnel Branch on this matter, ORS's people will pass on the message to the numerous religious soldiers who have been asking them about this," Bar-Sela said.

      ORS was less happy about the fact that the clarifications were not issued formally by the IDF. This, they suspect, shows that someone in the IDF wants matters to remain ambiguous "so that incitement against the Torah fearing public will flare up again."