IDF officers who studied under Rabbi Levinstein in a pre-military modern Orthodox academy sign a petition backing their Rabbi, against the integration of women in combat roles, claiming they ‘fully understand the dangers and problems’ raised by the Rabbi.

More than 200 IDF officers, graduates of the military Yeshiva academy Bnei David Eli, have signed a petition backing up their rabbi, Yigal Levinstein, head of the pre-military academy, following his disparaging remarks Tuesday against women serving in combat.

They argue that integrating women in combat units could harm the army “in a significant and painful manner,” and the fact that the rabbi’s words “sound harsh” is only “due to the seriousness of the matter.”

“Through this letter, we would like to express support and reafirm the words of Rabbi Levinstein,” clarified the officers, reservists ranging in ranks from Lt. to Lt. Col.

“Anyone who knows Rabbi Levinstein knows how great his love for the IDF is, and how much his concern over its proper functioning is sincere, profound and unshakeable. From him, we learned how important it is to devote one’s self to the security of Israel.

Rabbi Levinstein
Rabbi Levinstein


“Recently, the rabbi warned of changes and vicissitudes in the army, especially in relation to the integration of women in combat units,” wrote the officers, “As someone familiar with the military, we understand the problems mentioned by the rabbi and the dangers inherent in them.”

Levinstein’s disciples emphasized that he is not alone, since his position reflects the opinion of the “great Rabbis of Israel” and the religious ruling of the Chief Rabbinate in relation to the integration of girls in the military in general, and the training of observant women in particular.

The officers’ petition is a grass-roots initiative, which began with the graduates. Meanwhile, the Bnei David administration is still debating on how to officially respond following the Rabbi’s speech.

It is widely assumed that on Wednesday night, Levinstein’s co-director of the prestigious institution Rabbi Eli Sadan, will issue an announcement addressing the matter for the first time and clarifying the academy’s stance.

Rabbi Levinstein’s speech reignited the controversy surrounding the principle of integrating women in combat roles. Rabbi Dov Lior, a leader of the conservative wing of religious Zionism, stated that a male soldier must not serve in a co-ed unit. He said that “If the public stands firm—there is a chance it will be canceled.”

The rabbi explained that “even though service in the army is a commandment, it is not permissible to enter a situation where it is made impossible to live as an observant Jew.”

The rabbi of Beit El, Zalman Melamed, also a leader of the religious Zionist camp, sent a letter to the religious Knesset members, urging them to join forces and work together to cancel the command so as to “allow every soldier to serve in a gender appropriate unit.”

He claimed that the Chief of Staff’s intent seems to be eliminating the gender-separate units, and determined that “the new IDF spirit goes against the spirit of the Torah in Israel.”

“Most IDF soldiers are traditional,” claimed Rabbi Melamed. “Who gave the chief of staff the authority to harm the fundamental values of the majority of the soldiers? He does not have the authority to impose a world view.”

Rabbi Melamed also warned that if the process isn’t somehow blocked, most soldiers will be obligated to serve in mixed units while the Orthodox will be placed “in ghettos in the army.” According to him, this would entail “the destruction of modesty in the army, which is one of the qualities distinguishing the people of Israel.”

The State Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday that it has rejected the application of the “Free Israel” movement to open a criminal investigation against Rabbi Levinstein, following a lesson he taught last year that went against the LGBT community, calling its members “perverse.”

The letter sent by the prosecutor’s office stated that there is no place to open an investigation since his words “did not call, either overtly or covertly, for violence against members of the LGBT community, or any other person. Therefore, the contextual basis for incitement to violence was not met.”

As reported by Ynetnews