Daily Israel Report

Foreign Ministry: Chabad ‘Civilian Service’ is Illegal

Ministry rejects Shaked Committee’s plan to count Chabad emissaries toward ‘hareidi service’ goal.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 3/4/2014, 7:59 PM

Chabad tanks celebrate Lag BaOmer
Chabad tanks celebrate Lag BaOmer
Israel News photo: Chabad

The Shaked Committee (aka Equal Burden of Service Committee) has decided that 100 volunteers with the Chabad Lubavitch movement will be considered “civilian service” volunteers – and their service will count toward hareidi enlistment targets.

The groundbreaking decision faces strong opposition from the Foreign Ministry, which declared Tuesday that the proposed arrangement would not be legal.

The Shaked Committee agreed that a select number of Chabad volunteers would be seen as working on behalf of the state of Israel, and their activities would be funded through the Sherut Ezrahi program for non-military national service.

However, Foreign Ministry officials say that only Foreign Ministry staff have the legal right to work overseas as a representative of Israel. All others must apply for a tourist visa or work visa from the host country.

Ministry personnel also expressed concern that Chabad volunteers could end up in jail for violating local law. “We’re putting people in places that they shouldn’t be in under local law,” they warned.

The Shaked Committee’s ruling would apply only to Chabad volunteers outside North America and western Europe.