Reform rabbis to perform IDF funerals?

IDF chief rabbi instructs military rabbinate to respect families' wishes after State tells court Reform rabbis to perform military funerals

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Rabbi Eyal Karim
Rabbi Eyal Karim
IDF spokesperson

The Chief Rabbi of the IDF, Brig. Gen. Eyal Karim, issued a directive to officers of the military rabbinate in light of the hearing held Thursday morning in the High Court, during which the state representative announced that a rabbi from the Reform movement would be permitted to perform military funeral ceremonies.

"This morning there was a hearing in the Supreme Court in the matter of a petition by the Reform Movement regarding the change in burial arrangements in the IDF. The petition was rejected. As has always been the case, in preparing for the funeral plan - the family's will, beliefs and outlooks will be a leading and central value," wrote Rabbi Karim in his letter.

"As the order states, a change in the will or request of the family will be made only in rare cases if there is a suspicion that the sanctity of the cemetery is compromised.

The Chief Rabbi added: "May all things be halakhic and not in vain, and we should know only happy occasions and good tidings."

הר הרצל
Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90

As mentioned above, a hearing was held in the High Court of Justice in the wake of a petition filed by attorney Uri Regev in 2017 on behalf of the Hadash organization against the IDF, claiming that Reform soldiers were discriminated against in military funerals.

A state representative announced at the hearing that the IDF would allow a Reform rabbi or rabbi to conduct military funeral ceremonies. The petition claimed that the IDF does not allow every Jewish soldier to be buried according to his faith and forces him to an Orthodox military funeral run by the military rabbinate.

Following the hearing, attorney Regev stated that "the conduction of a ceremony by a Reform rabbi will be a rare event, but what is more common is a secular military burial. It seems to me that in the wake of our petition, we are entering a new era."