Military Rabbinate Criticized for Proselytizing

Ad Feedback - JERUSALEM, Israel - Labor MK Ofer Pines-Paz asked Defense Minister Ehud Barak to investigate allegations that the military rabbinate has overstepped its bounds.

Pines-Paz, chairman of the Knesset's Interior and Environment Committee, based his request on a report in the Israeli daily Haaretz.

"The article gives cause for concern," Pines-Paz wrote. "The (military) rabbinate is overstepping its authority, which is solely to provide religious services, and is acting in an aggressive manner in order to cause Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers to become religiously observant," Pines-Paz contended.

"This activity undermines religious-secular relations in the IDF and leads the army into dealing with areas beyond its scope. It uses the IDF to advance religious and political ideas," he said.

"The rabbinate is bringing religion in through the back door, in a dangerous manner, and harming the IDF's ability to fulfill its mission," he said.

Major General (ret.) Elazar Stern, former head of OC manpower, addressed the same concerns at a conference on Jewish identity.

"There are people in the Chief Rabbinate…who are trying to increase religious influence on soldiers. They are doing things without coordinating first with the education division," Stern said.

Stern, himself an Orthodox Jew, said the IDF must maintain the balance between Jewish identity and religious coercion.

Sources: Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post

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