Haredim and the IDF

Haredim and the IDF

While I agree with part of the sentiment of Rabbi Bob Mark’s Aug. 20 d’var Torah, I feel it was an oversimplification for three different reasons.

First, while he points to the haredim who are using yeshiva deferments not to serve in the Israel Defense Forces, he leaves out the students from the haredi yeshivas who make up 15 to 20 percent of the Hesder program, an IDF program that combines Torah study and military service.

He does not mention the haredim who are large part of the paramedic corps and chevra kadishas (often serving at the front or other dangerous areas).

Finally, he does not mention the secular Jewish youth from affluent families who study abroad to avoid military service for as long as possible. The situation of haredim avoiding military service is not unique to them but part of a larger problem that has existed since the early 1980s, in which service in the IDF has lost some of the status it once had.

Second, while concerning himself with the failure of the haredim to do their national duty, he ignores the effects of the failure to do IDF service. The result is that a considerable number of haredim will never develop the skills necessary to make a living. One of the benefits IDF service offers is the development of such skills. As a result, these haredim, with their large families will become dependent on charity, governmental programs, and the black market. As a result, the use of the yeshiva deferments hurts the Haredi community most of all.

Thirdly, Rabbi Mark ignores the inherent difficulty in incorporating the haredim into military service. This community has a right to separate itself from the general Jewish society just as other religious groups have done in the past with their societies. As a modern Orthodox Jew, I may not agree with that sentiment but I respect it.

Any attempt to incorporate haredim into the IDF must involve the creation of separate Hesder-style units for the haredim.