Sunday, September 02, 2012

Is it Easier Today to be Religious in the IDF?

I have blogged in the past about the serious issues a relgious soldier who wishes to serve in the IDF must face. Rabbi Eliezer Melamed discusses the issue in his Dvar Torah for parashat Ki Teitzei:
לפני כחצי שנה השתתפתי בדיון ב'כנס ירושלים' של 'בשבע'. המנחה, עמית סגל, שאל את משתתפי הפאנל אם המצב כיום בצבא טוב יותר לחייל הדתי מאשר לפני כעשרים שנה. עניתי שככלל, המצב כיום יותר טוב. לאחר שעברו כמה דקות, חשתי לא שלם עם תשובתי. ביקשתי מהמנחה רשות לתקן את דבריי, ואמרתי כי אמנם מבחינות רבות יש התקדמות, אך למרות זאת לא בטוח שהמצב כיום יותר טוב. אולי לדתיים הרגילים המצב יותר טוב, אבל לציבור התורני (המכונה 'חרדי-לאומי') המצב יותר גרוע.
My translation:
About half a year ago I took part in BeSheva's Jerusalem Convention. The master of ceremonies, Amit Segal asked those on the panel if the situation today in the army is better for the religious soldier than it was twenty years ago. I answered that in general, the situation is better. A few minutes passed, and I did not feel fully satisfied with my answer. I requested permission from the MC to "fix" my words. and I said that in many respects there is progress, however in spite of this I am not sure that the situation today is better. Perhaps for the regular religious soldiers the situation is better, but for the Torani public (aka. as chareid leumi) the situation is worse.
Rabbi Melamed goes on to explain that with regards to certain matters, for instance kashrut and receiving time to pray, the situation has improved. However, the army is now putting women together with men in the fighting units. This, together with the growing permissiveness in the secular community, has caused a great decline in the IDF's "modesty" situation.

Rabbi Melemad also states the following:

1) Fifty years ago, the overwhelming majority of Israeli religious abandoned religion in adulthood. The for most of them this happened as a result of the social pressure they experienced in the IDF.

2) Even today, more than 20 percent of the relgious soldiers in the IDF "take their kippah off" and stop keeping the Sabbath during thier army service.

I highly recommend this article. In the meantime it is available in Hebrew.

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