After four years of discussion an agreement on IDF military service appears to be on the verge of being signed between the IDF and the Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidic movement.
The agreement marks a new arrangement for the young men who turn 18 and typically go on to learn in “kvutza,” the movement’s rabbinic studies program at Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters in Brooklyn New York.
According to the new agreement, reported on the Voice of Heritage, after the boys travel abroad to attend a two-year rabbinic studies program, they are to be allowed to complete studies in Israel for two more years. After that time, usually at age 24, they will be required to determine whether they will study Torah full-time, or enlist in a modified military program. Those who decide to continue rabbinic studies will be asked again at age 26.
The agreement will also apply to 300 students who are currently under threat because their status has not yet been determined.
Chabad-Lubavitch leaders have been discussing the complex issue of military service for rabbinic yeshiva students with the IDF since 2012.
Only 15 percent of hareidi religious Israeli men are to receive a permanent exemption from military service, according to a report in the Hadarei Hahareidim website, and those young men are expected to devote their lives exclusively to Torah learning. The remainder are expected to respond to draft notices and serve in the IDF.
Since November 2015, at least 36 Chabad yeshiva students have joined the Intelligence Corps and are currently service in IDF special cyber units.
Up to now, Chabad yeshiva students travel abroad to attend rabbinic studies in the movement’s yeshiva at 770 Eastern Parkway in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York, regardless of what else is going on.
“When it is time to go to kvutza, they go,” one Israeli Chabad mother told JewishPress.com, asking not to be identified. “It’s not that they don’t want to serve. But they have to finish their studies first. That’s the most important thing.”
Until the agreement is signed, students who continue to travel abroad and those already in the yeshiva will be considered draft dodgers. Upon their return to Israel they will be required to enlist in the IDF for military service.Hana Levi Julian