web analytics
August 21, 2014 / 25 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



The Holiest Day of the Year: How IDF Soldiers Observe Yom Kippur

The IDF is nothing if not innovative. For soldiers who are on the front lines during the Yom Kippur Fast, the army suggests they suck on popsicles to keep their strength without violating to laws of the fast.
If the soldiers cannot come to the Torah, then the Torah comes to the soldiers; Torah reading in the field

If the soldiers cannot come to the Torah, then the Torah comes to the soldiers; Torah reading in the field
Photo Credit: IDF

The Yom Kippur War in 1973 serves as a stark reminder why the IDF must be on alert every day, especially on the holiest day of the year, and rabbis guide soldiers on the best way possible to maintain the delicate balance between a soldier’s obligations to national defense with his or her religious needs.

Day-to-day work in the IDF comes to a halt on all holidays like Yom Kippur, but essential security work must be active 24/7 as a result of constant threats posed by Israel’s enemies. In 1973, Syria and Egypt abused the holiness of the day by attacking Israel while most of soldiers were fasting at home or in the Synagogue.

For IDF soldiers who are on duty, some of the laws of Yom Kippur are not possible or even dangerous to observe fully. Yom Kippur is well known for its 25-hour fast, it also is forbidden to wash, bathe, apply lotions or oils to the skin or wear leather shoes.

Some soldiers observe the custom of immersing in the mikveh, the ritual bath before Yom Kippur. For soldiers who do not have access to a ritual bath, they fulfill the tradition by taking a three-minute shower, the equivalent of 12.5 liters of water.

All soldiers are exempt from wearing the leather IDF boots that are part of the standard uniform. Soldiers are entitled to wear their own personal shoes made from canvas, rubber, or in some cases, sandals. Troops who are in areas that require sturdy footwear, such as in fields with snakes or scorpions, are permitted to wear their leather boots until they are finished with the work, after which they can switch back into non-leather shoes.

Almost every base has a synagogue in one form or another. Before the holiday, the IDF Rabbinate ensures that every IDF base has enough of the special Yom Kippur prayer books. Cantors are sent to many bases around Israel in order to lead the intense prayer services.

Soldiers who are not on active duty are able to fast, but while on duty are allowed to have the equivalent of a capful of water and a tiny amount of food every nine minutes. The intervals are shortened depending on the intensity of the situation.

One new innovation to comply with the law allowing a certain amount of water is to use popsicles, which perfectly portion water out .Individually-wrapped mini ice popsicles work well not only because of their easy portion control but because they also provide a small amount of sugar for soldiers who need it.

Some soldiers are not able to fast at all due to their line of work. Refraining from food and water while on duty be dangerous for the soldier and for national security since it could distract from a soldier’s abilities.

Lieutenant Colonel Malakhi Ra’avad, head of the branch responsible for interpreting religious law, said that a soldier’s health and safety comes above all else. “We would not allow a pilot, for example, who will need to fly a plane during Yom Kippur, to fast at all. It would put his life in danger. Keeping our soldiers out of harm’s way is our most important concern.”

Soldiers who have questions regarding observance of Yom Kippur while on duty have several options in the army. In addition to advice from their own personal rabbi, soldiers can speak with the rabbi of their base or call the Rabbinate Hotline to get quick answers about observing Jewish law in the army.

Even the soldiers who go home for the holidays must still be prepared to be called back to base at a moment’s notice. Some soldiers keep their cell phones with them, even if for religious reasons they would not otherwise touch electronics during Yom Kippur.

When the Yom Kippur War broke out in 1973, Brigadier General (res.) Avraham Baram saw firsthand what happened to the holiday: “The very second the war broke out, Yom Kippur ended for us.” He said that whoever was at synagogue during the holiday did not find out about the war or emergency call-up until many hours later. “It would have been so different even if I had this plain phone,” Brig. Gen. (res) Baram said, pointing to his smartphone.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

3 Responses to “The Holiest Day of the Year: How IDF Soldiers Observe Yom Kippur”

  1. Joel Schnur says:

    mi k'amcha Yisrael?

  2. very interesting article.

  3. sussmanbern says:

    I would very much like to see this article double-checked and expanded.
    In the 7th paragraph:  Are soldiers allowed to eat & drink every NINE minutes?  That doesn’t seem like even a partial fast.  Could it be that the interval is NINETY minutes?
    I would want more details on exactly how much IDF soldiers in various situations are allowed to eat, drink, and otherwise observe the Holy Day restrictions.  There are Jewish soldiers and sailors in the American military, and in other countries, who get no concessions for the holiday and are pretty much left to their own devices on how to observe Yom Kippur while on active duty.  The complete details of what is and isn’t allowed in the various branches and situations in the IDF would be guidance for all those Jewish servicemen in other countries for many years to come.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
US President Barack Obama speaking on the phone last month aboard Air Force One.
US Reveals Failed Summer Mission to Rescue Captured Journalist
Latest News Stories
US President Barack Obama speaking on the phone last month aboard Air Force One.

There was a failed secret US mission earlier this summer to rescue American hostages in Syria.

Islamic State terrorists start out young.

The Islamic State is getting a lot of bad publicity lately, which actually proves how successful they are.

James Foley and his Islamic State executioner.

Islamic terror coming soon to your favorite neighborhood street theater.

Netanyahu, Ya’alon and Gantz’s comments: War until there is total quiet and everyone can sleep at night.

The ZIM ship was quickly and efficiently unloaded – despite the best efforts by the Jihadi supporters to block it.

11:06pm Sapir, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Sderot, Gaza border, Ashkelon, Ashkelon, Ashkelon 10:17pm Kerem Shalom 9:04pm Ashkelon Coast 8:49pm Eshkol 8:12pm Eshkol 7:47pm Eshkol 7:44pm A Hamas spokesperson has warned airlines to not fly into Ben-Gurion starting 6am tomorrow (Thursday), according to a YNet report. It’s actually things like that that makes Israel hit Hamas even harder. 7:35pm Kerem […]

Don’t you feel just a tad jealous of Egypt right now?

Israel’s Security Cabinet is meeting in a marathon session to decide the next step in Operation Protective Edge.

More than 1,550 individuals have immigrated to Israel from Ukraine in the first five months of 2014 alone, more than double the 693 who arrived in the corresponding period last year.

Signs that Islamic State (ISIS – Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) terrorists have arrived in Egypt have appeared in the Sinai Peninsula.

Shlomy Zachary, an Israeli human rights lawyer, noted that Israeli cooperation with previous UN investigations has helped mitigate criticism of Israel – for example, in a 2010 UN investigation of the so-called flotilla incident.

Israelis may have to blame Qatar for the current round of lethal rocket fire, if a report published in Arab media is true.

So imagine, you’re working in the field harvesting cucumbers (or whatever is in season right now) and suddenly the siren goes off – Hamas is shooting rockets at you.

More Articles from IDF Spokesperson's Office
Lt. Eitan

During Operation Protective Edge, IDF soldiers were faced with deadly risks in the Gaza Strip. Sixty four soldiers were killed and many more were wounded in combat. This is the story of one IDF commander who put his life in danger to rescue a soldier kidnapped by Hamas. Lt. Eitan, 23, joined the elite unit […]

Sgt O

Sgt. O’s commander: “We do not fight indiscriminately. We are an army not a terrorist organization.”

The discovery of a Hamas “urban warfare” manual by IDF forces reveals Hamas’ callous use of Gazans

IDF video of 1st day in Gaza, Operation Protective Edge

Hamas dramatically upgraded its weapons stockpile, placing millions of Israeli civilians at risk.

Terrorists involved in the rockets launched at Israel last week were targeted Friday by the IAF.

Since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, terrorists in the area have fired more than 8,000 rockets into Israel.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/the-holiest-day-of-the-year-how-idf-soldiers-observe-yom-kippur/2013/09/13/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: