Military rabbis, secular education officers battle over IDF’s soul

Military rabbis, secular education officers battle over IDF’s soul

State comptroller report says rabbinate, Education Corps vying for control of soldiers’ education • IDF concerned over possible breach of status quo in military education • Comptroller also skeptical of programs for ultra-Orthodox employment.

Lilach Shoval, Hezi Sternlicht and Yehuda Shlezinger
Former IDF Chief Rabbi Brig. Gen. (res.) Avichai Ronsky says he is proud of the Military Rabbinate’s educational work in the IDF.

 
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Photo credit: AP

 

 
 
 
 
 
Former IDF Chief Rabbi Brig. Gen. (res.) Avichai Ronsky says he is proud of the Military Rabbinate’s educational work in the IDF.

 
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Photo credit: AP

 

The annual report issued by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss on Tuesday indicates a power struggle inside the Israel Defense Forces between the Military Rabbinate and the Education Corps.

 

Officially, educating soldiers is the responsibility of individual officers, with the help of the Education Corps. However, the Military Rabbinate has been running educational programs of its own, the report said, leading to friction with the general staff of the Education Corps.

 

IDF Chief Education Officer Brig. Gen. Eli Schermeister pointed out in 2009 that a new trend of education was taking hold in the military. Then Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi said the religious nature of this education was a „breach of the status quo and harmful to the IDF.”

 

Former IDF Chief Rabbi Brig. Gen. (res.) Avichai Ronsky also commented on the comptroller’s report, which is based on events that transpired during his term. „The comptroller presented the reality correctly. The [educational project he refers to] was the Military Rabbinate’s flagship project. We entered a vacuum. The Education Corps was not involved and it was our job. I am proud of what we did,” Ronsky said.

 

The state comptroller’s report also claims that new IDF programs for ultra-Orthodox soldiers have led to a significant increase in the number of ultra-Orthodox men who join the military. According to the report, the IDF has met and even surpassed its interim target of 1,200 new ultra-Orthodox soldiers per year.

 

Concerning governmental plans to integrate ultra-Orthodox men in the workforce, Lindenstrauss was less optimistic. He wrote that of the 620 men who participated in the government’s main program this year, so far only 250 have found jobs. „It is doubtful if those responsible for the program will meet the government’s target,” wrote Lindenstrauss.

Israel Hayom