July 23, 2024
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IDF to Launch Women’s Unit for Religious Female Soldiers

The new unit will be part of the Combat Intelligence Collection Corps and will be staffed entirely by women.

A female IDF soldier paints a comrade with mud. (Credit: IDF)

In a groundbreaking move, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is set to establish a gender-specific combat unit exclusively for religious young women. This initiative, developed with the support of the Military Rabbinate and guided by religious advisers, aims to provide a supportive environment that addresses the unique halachic and spiritual challenges faced by religious female soldiers.

According to a report by Makor Rishon newspaper, the decision followed a notable trend among religious young women, with approximately 3,500 enlisting this year. Remarkably, about 10% of these enlistees, equating to 350 young women, are choosing combat roles.

This increase prompted religious leaders to approach the IDF with the idea of creating a dedicated combat unit for religious young women, ensuring they receive the necessary spiritual support and guidance throughout their service.

The new unit will be part of the Combat Intelligence Collection Corps and will be staffed entirely by women. Rabbi Ohad Taharlev, head of the Lindenbaum Midrasha, is playing a pivotal role in advising and accompanying the unit’s establishment. The unit is also expected to include a female halachic adviser and spiritual figure who will serve in a reservist capacity, providing close guidance and delivering two weekly Torah lessons.

A female IDF soldier stands in front of a tank. (Credit: IDF)

Taharlev emphasized the importance of this initiative: “This unit will offer a supportive framework, neutralizing the halachic and spiritual challenges that arise in the joint service of men and women.”

Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander, president and rosh yeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone, commented on the new initiative. He told The Jerusalem Post: “For 26 years, Ohr Torah Stone’s Midreshet Lindenbaum has fully supported religious women in non-combat IDF roles, providing them with spiritual and halachic guidance before and during their service in crucial and meaningful roles. In the face of this new IDF response to the growing number of religious women who choose to enlist in combat units, we are proud that Midreshet Lindenbaum’s director, Rabbi Ohad Taharlev, and a graduate rabbanit from our Kollel Deah (advanced Jewish studies program) will be able to provide spiritual and halachic guidance to them as well. We are here for all of our beloved soldiers and support all of the young women and men serving our country, especially in these very troubling times of war.”

So far, around 30 prospective female soldiers have expressed their desire to join the unit in the upcoming August enlistment. The IDF aims to create a nurturing environment that respects their religious values while allowing them to serve their country in combat roles.

Before their enlistment, the young women will attend a preparation day at the induction center, described as a “religious consolidation” day. This event will involve the Meitav unit (the IDF’s induction and sorting unit), the accompanying team, and the Military Rabbinate, ensuring they are well-prepared for their unique service.

Religious public figures who observed that nearly a third of the young women enlisting for combat were going to serve in the border police prompted this initiative. They approached the IDF and suggested opening a gender-specific combat framework, to which the army readily agreed. Over the past few weeks, the details of this new unit have been gradually finalized.

Religious young women interested in joining this new gender-specific unit can apply through the Meitav unit. The IDF has made it clear that any young woman who identifies as religious is welcome to join.

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