A prominent Israeli rabbi has described the lack of respect shown by Charedim towards the IDF as a “huge blemish”, arguing that the “obligation to serve in the army is greater than the obligation to learn Torah”.
Rabbi Ronen Neuwirth is the head of Beit Hillel, an organisation that promotes moderate approaches to Judaism. He presides over an alliance of 200 modern Orthodox rabbis.
The rabbi said during a recent visit to London that new ways had to be found to combine army service with Torah study. He also cast doubt on the number of Charedim who actually study in the yeshivah system.
“There are many paths to serve less time in the army, but at least give something to the country… The problem is that they don’t even say the prayer for the safety and health of the soldiers. To show such a disconnect towards those who sacrifice their lives for the country is a huge blemish.”
Beit Hillel, which the rabbi said was the only body of its kind to include women as equals in its decision-making processes, is growing in political influence. “We have become the address for parties like Yesh Atid, Jewish Home and Ha’tnuah, who want to consult an authority on Halachic issues and religious legislation,” he said.