Head of IDF Haredi Draft Quits Over Women Singing

Issue of woman singing becomes issue when a group of male soldiers walked out of an army event they were attending when a woman began to sing.

An Israel Defense Force rabbi has resigned his position in a project integrating the ultra-Orthodox into the army partially because of new guidelines requiring religious soldiers to attend official ceremonies even if they feature women singing.

Some observant Jewish men refrain from being present when women sing and the issue became a matter of contention in the army when a group of male soldiers walked out of an army event they were attending when a woman began to sing.

The incident has been followed by others in the army and elsewhere in the country involving members of the Haredi seeking to marginalize or separate women in public settings.

Lt. Col. Ram Moshe Ravad quit his post in the Shahar program, as the IDF's Haredi integration project is known, because of draft changes to rules for religious soldiers, he wrote in a letter to the IDF Personnel Directorate and to soldiers in the program. Ravad also serves in the air force, a position he will keep until this summer, according to the IDF Spokesman's Office.

In his letter, which was published on the Haredi ladaat.net website, Ravad wrote: "In recent months the Personnel Directorate has decided to reexamine and reconsider its rules. I was a party to these discussions and I insisted on maintaining what had been agreed upon. In the last draft of the new rules, I saw that provisions had been deleted that were designed to maintain the piety of the soldiers. In addition, a provision was added allowing activity that could do harm to that piety."

Ravad acknowledged in the text on the Haredi website that a complete set of rules on the subject had not yet been finalized and that they would be discussed further.

"Under the current circumstances, however, I don't see myself as being able to be part of the administration of the program as a rabbi and adviser," Ravad wrote.

He expressed the hope that the program would allow Haredim to continue to participate in the Shahar project.