And the Rabbis in the synagogues…

July 2, 2009

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The story is outrageous to some, and curious to others. Yet there is more to it than meets the eye.

At a public conference, when asked to address the special needs of orthodox religious women in the army, the army’s Chief Rabbi Avichai Ronski responded that women should not serve in the army in the first place.

The resulting storm has been inevitable, and, in Shaanan Streett’s definition: automatic.

All that remains are two key issues.

First, it was once Herzl’s vision that the Jewish State would maintain a strict separation between synagogue and state. Now the presence of the orthodox religious in the Israeli Defence Forces is both noticable in numbers and in the stated aim of its Chief Rabbi. Is this a bad thing, reversing as it does Herzl’s secular vision? Or is this inevitable and even to be blessed, that the Jewish people and the Jewish religion has its own army?

Second, while the liberals among us must protest the inherent chauvinism of Ronski’s statement, we must ask whether a female soldier is the pinnacle of the Zionist enterprise? Is a woman fighter something the Jewish world should be proud of?

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