Hareidi Yeshivot Cancel Summer Break Due to War
Several major Hassidic leaders have called on their yeshivot [Torah study academies] to cancel summer vacation due to the ongoing fighting in Gaza, and have ordered their followers to learn Torah during that time instead as a means of "spiritual protection" for the soldiers and residents of the South.
The Rebbe (Grand Rabbi) of the Ger hassidic sect (also known as Gur) told his students to return home for the upcoming Tisha B'av fast only, and to return to yeshiva learning immediately thereafter to help on the "spiritual front" of the Israeli war effort. Tisha B'av traditionally marks the start of the summer vacation for yeshivas.
The Rebbe of the Belz hassidic sect has similarly forbidden his students to go hiking during the traditional break time and has instead instituted a Torah study schedule emphasizing morality and spiritual strength.
Mainstream hareidi Sephardic leaders have also called for post-Tisha B'av vacation to be cancelled, including the Sephardic Chief Rabbi, or "Rishon LeTzion", Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef.
"If the war continues after Tisha B'av - the boys should not leave during this time, we must continue to learn, it's not right to be out as our boys are on the front," the Rishon LeTzion stated.
According to Kikar HaShabbat, a blanket announcement was also released to this effect from the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, a hareidi umbrella organization encompassing leadership from several hareidi factions and institutions, including both the hassidic and Lithuanian Ashkenazic streams.
Members listed as of 2012 included Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Steinman, Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, Rabbi Meir Tzvi Bergman, Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, Rabbi Yitzchok Scheiner, Rabbi Baruch Dov Stefanski, Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein, Rabbi Aryeh Finkel, Rabbi Moshe Yehuda Schlesinger, Rabbi Moshe Hillel Hirsch and Rabbi David Cohen.
Later Wednesday the rosh yeshiva (dean) of the Merkaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem - considered one of the foremost religious-Zionist Torah institutions - added his voice to the calls to intensify, rather than wind-down, Torah study during the summer holidays.
In a letter to his students Rabbi Yaakov Shapira said that the entire Jewish people must stand together, both physically and spiritually, at a time of war.
"We are all together in a campaign for the honor of our people, for the honor of our land; we stand together in prayer for the welfare of our soldiers at the front lines, for their success and safe return," read an excerpt from the letter, available in full on Arutz Sheva's Hebrew site.