2,000 Charedi Jews sign up to IDF

Some Strictly Orthodox Jews are exempted from military service in Israel


(JNS) More than 2,000 ultra-Orthodox Israelis have asked to be enlisted in the IDF, in an unprecedented mobilization of Charedi Jews.

The volunteer recruitment follows Hamas’s murder of more than 1,500 Israelis and wounding of thousands of others on Oct. 7, the bloodiest massacre of Jews since the Second World War.

About 150 Charedim arrived at the IDF recruitment office at Tel Hashomer in Ramat Gan on Monday as the military begins to draft them as volunteers. Most of the volunteers, who ranged in age from their mid-20s to late 30s, are members of the Lithuanian (Litvak) stream of Strictly Orthodox Judaism.

Ultra-Orthodox male yeshiva students are generally exempt from mandatory military service as part of a widely-criticized decades-old arrangement that allows them to study instead. 

In the first years of the state, Israel offered exemptions from military service to 500 ultra-Orthodox Jewish scholars, a number that has mushroomed to tens of thousands over the decades.

The Strictly Orthodox believe that studying Torah is the best protection for the state, a view that has drawn resentment from the rest of the public as the numbers who avoided military service swelled.

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