Rabbi Rafi Peretz
Rabbi Rafi PeretzFlash 90

Amid the various controversies surrounding the IDF and Judaism these days, a course for the newest IDF Rabbis concluded this week with a festive ceremony at the Western Wall. The new rabbis will take up their new positions in their respective units in the coming days.

The relationship between religious Judaism, Torah and the IDF has been rocky over the past several weeks and months, what with the transfer of the Jewish Awareness department to the Education Corps, the bearded soldiers who have been ordered to shave, and the new reforms in the Education Corps.

Despite this, the atmosphere in the Rabbis' course was upbeat and confident.

Before the concluding ceremony, Jerusalem's Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern delivered a summing-up Torah lecture on the topic of Jewish unity, entitled,"Between Tisha B'Av and Tu B'Av: Destruction and Redemption."

Rabbi Stern encouraged the young rabbis "not to fear to relate G-d's word" and to "stand on guard for the soldiers' spiritual and religious needs."

Participating in the final lecture were also outgoing IDF Chief Rabbi Brig.-Gen. Rafi Peretz, Rabbi Tzvi Kustiner – Rosh Yeshiva in Mitzpeh Ramon and one of the course commanders – and others.

The lecture took place in the refurbished Ohel Yitzchak synagogue, on the seam between the Moslem and Jewish Quarters of the Old City, near the Western Wall. The synagogue was originally built in 1891, though construction did not conclude until 1904. In the 1920s, Arab pogroms forced the abandonment of the synagogue; it was rented out to an Arab resident, and its furnishings were transferred to the Kehal Ye'reim synagogue in Meah She'arim.

During the Jordanian occupation of Jerusalem between 1948 and 1967, the building was vandalized and destroyed, leaving nothing more than two walls standing. In 1993, the site was purchased by a fund headed by the late Dr. Irving Moskowitz, and in 2008, the rebuilding of the synagogue was concluded – an exact replica of the original building.