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September 27, 2016 / 24 Elul, 5776
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Religious Women Should Consider the Draft – They Aren’t So Fragile

Israeli female Border Police soldiers lighting Chanukah candles. There is no reason why religious women not consider military service, although they might do better to avoid combat roles in mixed units.

Israeli female Border Police soldiers lighting Chanukah candles. There is no reason why religious women not consider military service, although they might do better to avoid combat roles in mixed units.
Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/FLASH90

It’s true that some young women are better off not enlisting, but should serve in a different framework. There are also spots in the military where no woman has any business serving. But some military jobs are no different from what these same women would be doing in a few years for a living.

To summarize: not every woman, and not in every job. Also, it would be beneficial to every young woman preparing to serve in the IDF to seek religious instruction before enlisting. But that’s a long way away from a sweeping prohibition on women’s military service.

You might say, religious women are not protected when they serve together with secular men. but the same is true in many National Service jobs. National Service women often serve alongside women soldiers, in the very same places, and usually they get by.

Our young women are not so fragile. They are religious, they have values, they have a strong character, not any less than men their age. They can be trusted. Every woman should decide individually what better fits her personality: serving in a tight, sheltered religious environment, or in a more open society, in a civilian or military environment.

A few weeks ago, I hosted in my home on a Saturday night some of my former students from Midreshet Lindenbaum, who today are serving in the army. I heard with pleasure how they make sure to pray and study Torah in the army. They also told me how they read on Shabbat in one of the shul newspapers a statement by an important rabbi who declared: “the vast majority of religious women who serve in the army – are damaged.”

They asked me: why would a rabbi say untrue things about us?

I didn’t have an answer.

This article was originally published in Makor Rishon.

Rabbi Chaim Navon

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