The Chief Rabbinate ruled that Jewish law forbids religious girls from enlisting in the IDF, Galei Tzahal (IDF Radio) reported Thursday. The ruling came following recently published figures showing an increase in religious female recruits.
MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua) criticized the ruling Thursday, saying "every step by the rabbis against the growing phenomenon of religious female IDF recruits serves to highlight [the erosion in] the rabbis' status, and their connection to Israeli society and the true challenges."
Stern has actively been pushing for Hareidi-religious to enlist, claiming in November that "the country has things that are important besides learning Torah. There is something more important than Torah study, and that is life and death." Back in 2011, the MK criticized religious soldiers for walking out of a ceremony in which women sang, implying they were getting "too religious."
In making the decision, the Rabbinate, under Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau, who served in the IDF, and Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, stated that it "forbids any type of enlistment to the IDF (by women), and in doing so continues the tradition of the previous Chief Rabbis."
The decision comes right after the IDF opened the position of kashrut (Jewish dietary law) inspector to female soldiers, following the opening of the position to women by the Chief Rabbinate and the Religious Services Ministry.
During the discussion in which the ruling was made, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Tzfat, warned that the drafting of women to the IDF threatened "to erase the identity of Israel as a Jewish state."
Rabbi Yehuda Deri, Chief Rabbi of Be'er Sheva, went further, saying the matter was one of life or death.
In late December, Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, the Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan, made similar comments against female enlistment.
"Women and men cannot serve together in the field in combat – it is dangerous to security, a moral risk, the Torah opposes it, common sense is against it,” argued Rabbi Ariel. He firmly opposed female soldiers in combat positions in particular, instead promoting national service on a voluntary basis.
“Not through coercion…let them find ways through volunteering. Enlisting women to the army is forbidden," emphasized the rabbi.
The current Chief Rabbinate has made supportive gestures to the IDF.
In November, Rabbi Lau dedicated the Shabbat on which the Torah portion of "Vayishlach" is read as a day honoring soldiers who were wounded during their IDF service.