Rabbi Avihai Rontzki, former IDF Chief Rabbi, bemoaned on Tuesday the decision by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot to remove the Jewish Consciousness Department from the auspices of the IDF Rabbinate, and move it to the Personnel Directorate under the responsibility of Maj. Gen. Hagai Topolanski.
Placing Jewish Consciousness in the hands of people who are not part of the Torah world will detract from the IDF's Jewish identity, Rabi Rontzki warned. He asked rhetorically: "When they discuss the holidays or Sabbaths, will they bring a Reform 'rabbi' and an academic lecturer? Will educational NCOs who do not know what the weekly Torah portion is about determine the contents?"
Rabbi Rontzki likened the decision to an earthquake. "Until today, it was clear that the Rabbinate is in charge of promoting IDF values and leadership on the basis of the Jewish sources, and the Education Corps does the same thing on the basis of sources from the modern era," he explained.
He said that it was the ultraleftist newspaper Haaretz that has been sniping at the Jewish Consciousness Department for a long time, and surmised that "they found a weak spot and succeeded in persuading the Chief of Staff to accept the Personnel Directorate 's suggestion, to place Jewish Consciousness, which is at the very heart of the IDF Rabbinate, under the Personnel Directorate."
Rabbi Rontzki said that if he were the Chief IDF Rabbi, he would resign in protest following the decision. "They want us to go back to bringing challahs and wine," he said. "What about the connection with the soldiers?"