Over the forty-four years since we’ve lived in Israel, I’ve noticed a definite increase in outward and accepted Jewish observance here. Being religious, in the American concept of MO Modern Orthodox, or even in the more religious Israeli “Chardal,” which is an even more observant life-style is no longer marginalized and hidden away.
The IDF, which in the early years of the State was extremely secular, today has a host of fully observant soldiers and officers even in or especially in the most elite, daring and dangerous units. Since the “first” Lebanese War, including those MIA missing in action, there’s a higher percentage disproportionate amount of religious, or from religious background, among the casualties.
A photographic tribute to the IDF and those who were killed during this recent, unfinished war, gives a pretty accurate impression of today’s Israeli army.
In the early days of the State of Israel, the Bnai Akiva look included a mustache, but their grandsons now frequently sport beards and payot, sometime just the payot which swing in syncopation with the tzitziyot coming out of their shirts.
I know that many people like to complain that Israel isn’t “religious enough,” but I have seen such positive changes in the forty plus years I am in Israel. It’s always easy to complain, but I really don’t see what there is to complain about.
IDF soldiers who are religiously observant have been promoted to important positions without being forced to give up religious life. Today there are many mechinot, religious preparatory yeshivot, academies, that provide IDF sanctioned guidance for the religious soldier, whether new conscript or high ranking officer.
That’s the big picture, thank G-d.