Senior Orthodox, National-Religious rabbis have strongly condemned enlisting Israeli women, but it appears that young religious females are not so impressed. According to a new survey conducted by Bar Ilan University doctoral candidate Ranit Budai-Heiman, a full 45% of religious girls who decided to enlist in the IDF do not regard seriously the objections of National Religious rabbis. The same survey found that 25% of enlisted religious women insist they should receive the identical support religious men do from rabbis and the educational system regarding their IDF service.
The survey was made public at the third conference of the Kinneret Academic College Association of Military Researchers. 744 religious schoolgirls in the 11th and 12th grades were asked about the elements that influence their decision to enlist.
Last November the IDF publicized its most recent data showing a dramatic leap in the number of enlisting religious women. 2,010 religious women enlisted in 2015, compared with 935 in 2010. About a quarter of religious girls graduating high school plan to enlist.
According to the survey’s author, “The majority of young women whose education was steeped in the values of religious Zionism express with their choices the realization of a theological ideology that views the state as sacred, which means that they must partake in defending its existence.”
She noted that their social identification also promotes their military service, “out of a desire to be partners in the Israeli discourse and in what they perceive as a significant experience in the life of a young Israeli person. The girls do not accept the gap that exists between the education of Religious Zionist boys and girls regarding military enlistment.”
Budai-Heiman argues that the girls who are enlisting nowadays are a role model and a symbol of values and quality. “This could sweep additional girls, which is why the rabbis have begun to issue severe statements against these girls, such as the declaration by Rabbi Shlomo Aviner who said that ‘a girl who enlists contributes to the destruction of the state.'” She believes such statements are rooted in the fear that the current trend will continue to increase among religious girls.