The Chotam organization, which seeks to guide public institutions towards greater accordance with Jewish values, announced that it is opening a legal hotline to help religious girls called to an “interview of declaration of religiosity” at IDF draft offices, following increasing complaints from religious girls, who had previously received an exemption from army service, that they had been called to an additional interview.
Reports from rabbis of religious girls’ schools and parents to the organization indicated that the IDF is trying to make life harder for the girls, and is randomly choosing girls for an additional interview at the draft office, where a more detailed test is undertaken of Torah subjects. Chotam emphasizes that these girls were not pretending to be religious, and their religiosity was not in doubt in any way.
“You have been summoned for an ‘interview of declaration of religiosity?’ You are not alone!” an announcement released in recent days by the organization reads. “Many girls in the religious educational system who asked to be excused from army service for religious reasons have been called for an additional interview at the draft office against the law. The Chotam organization is giving you legal aid and accompanying you personally to protect your legal religious rights, and your legal right to receive an exemption from the IDF, and serve within the framework of national service.”
One religious girl called to an “interview of religiosity” described the unpleasant feeling at the interview and the questions intended to stump the girls.
“They asked me questions about Jewish law and concepts. Part of them were basic, but some of them were things that not every religious person knows. They asked me about the ‘three-part blessing after meals,’ what the phrasing of the blessing for the new moon is, how many parts there are to the ‘Shema’ prayer, who wrote ‘The Song of Songs.’ There were some questions that I was unsure about. The situation, too, was intense. About 20 minutes of questioning with an unfriendly tone. It was a very unpleasant situation and I just wanted to run out of there.”
“The Army has decided for some reason to take the law into its own hands and get into fields not under its jurisdiction,” the CEO of the Chotam organization, Amital Bareli, said. “The religious identity of graduates of national religious institutions will not be measured on the basis of an interview with a clerk in the draft office. Responsibility in the matter, according to law, lies with a jurist serving in an official position, or with a judge. It appears that the need to prove the success of drafting religious girls brings those involved to call religious girls to weird and unwarranted interviews during which the girls must ‘prove’ to authorities that they are religious.”