The Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Aryeh Stern, on Thursday sent a letter to Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot today against mixed-gender service in mixed combat battalions.
"As is known, we have been privileged to raise a generation of wonderful young people who enthusiastically combine military service with Torah study, and we can testify that they are very hurt by the current trend of integrating girls into fighting units."
Rabbi Stern explains to the Chief of Staff that mixed-gender service harms "the preservation of their way of life, their values, and their faith.
"We, of course, call on all young men who are not learning, to enlist in full service, but their responsiveness depends a lot on the lifestyle that is being forged in the army."
The rabbi of Jerusalem calls on Eizenkot to preserve modesty in IDF units to enable religious soldiers to serve in a meaningful manner. "In addition, we must note that the army is very dear to us and that is precisely why it is important for us to maintain modesty, to fulfill what is written, 'And your camp shall be holy,'" wrote Rabbi Stern to the Chief of Staff.
Earlier on Thursday, the Rishon LeZion and Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef spoke with the rabbi of Tzfat (Safed), Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, and praised him for what he called "his steadfastness in fulfillment of the Chief Rabbinate's instructions on the matter of enlisting girls.
"Your father, Chacham Mordecai Eliyahu, is happy with you in heaven; do not fear and do not tremble," Rabbi Yosef said to Rabbi Eliyahu.
Rabbi Eliyahu called to fire Eizenkot because, according to the rabbi, the IDF under him has adopted radical feminist positions.
"I've been calling to fire the Chief of Staff, or at least not to extend his term," Rabbi Eliyahu said, "I've been thinking for months whether to speak or not to speak. Since the reported large drop in motivation for combat units, I've asked myself, 'Why is this happening?'
"This is something that should not be allowed if it develops, and it has been developing for a number of years; it's a disaster. Who's responsible for it? Who caused young people to lack motivation?" Rabbi Eliyahu wondered.
"It's natural to point to the head of the system as the one guilty in this matter. That is the person who removed the military rabbinate information service that increased motivation and replaced it with radical leftist organizations that decrease motivation.
Rabbi Eliyahu's remarks were criticized by some religious Zionist leaders. Rabbi Haim Druckman told the newspaper Israel Hayom, "What is this suggestion about not joining the army? It's not Tsar Nicholas' army, it's our army, we all have to enlist with great motivation, to fight to take part in the toughest combat units. I met with the Chief of Staff and he has no interest in harming the religious soldiers."
Rabbi Druckman added that "there was a dialogue with the army and they corrected the matter so that anyone who doesn't want to serve in a mixed battalion will not be obligated to do so. Too bad the words weren't checked before they were said. Nothing has changed within the army. This was determined in a dialogue with the Chief of Staff."