Eli yeshiva heads: We will not cooperate

The pre-army yeshiva at Eli responded to Defense Ministry request for a hearing regarding the future of their yeshiva.

Yoel Domb ,

Rabbi Levinstein
Rabbi Levinstein
Benei David

The Benei David pre-army yeshiva in Eli has responded to Defense Ministry Director-General Udi Adam's summons of yeshiva heads Eli Sadan and Yigal Levinstein to a hearing next week.

"As people who educate their students about the importance of freedom of speech, we will not cooperate with any attempt to harm the freedom of speech of rabbis, students and alumni of the Benei David institutions. With regard to the hesder yeshiva, Rabbi Levinstein does not teach in the hesder yeshiva," said the yeshiva's announcement.

Earlier, Adam had written a letter to the yeshiva stating that the Defense Minister intends to remove the Eli mechina from the list of recognized hesder yeshivot [yeshivot which have a 5 year program in which they legally defer army service for two years for religious studies] unless Rabbi Yigal Levinstein's employment as a teacher and educator there is terminated.

Adam wrote that "the acrimonious and continued recriminations by Rabbi Levinstein against women serving in the IDF and other sectors serving in the army cause great harm to the IDF and those serving in it as well as harming IDF values, the authority of the officers and the cohesiveness of the army."

"Rabbi Levinstein's inclusion among the staff of the yeshiva raises the concern that the students in the yeshiva who are also soldiers serving in the IDF are exposed to the above views which harm the goals of the studies in an institution which is supposed to educate to a full and significant service in the IDF and to respect for the IDF military commanders and those serving in it."

Adam added that Rabbi Levinstein's statements should not have been made to students in a hesder yeshiva or pre-army academy, both from the point of view of their content and their style of presentation. He referred to a conversation he had with Rabbi Levinstein after he termed LGBT as "deviants" and complained that Rabbi Levinstein was continuing his controversial statements.

Adam also said that Liberman intends to cancel the unique status of Eli as opposed to other paramilitary academies. At present Eli has no restriction on the number of army deferrals within its institutions whereas other acadamies maintain a specific number of deferrals and Liberman believes this harms equality within the pre-army frameworks.