New Female Recruits Welcomed to IDF With 'Educational' Jewish Ritual

Military Police force traineers took part in ceremony organized by the military rabbinate intended to 'foster values'; IDF said participation was voluntary.

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FILE PHOTO: Female Israel Defense Forces' soldiers
FILE PHOTO: Female Israel Defense Forces' soldiersCredit: Olivier Fitoussi
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

Women who had just been drafted into the Israel Defense Forces participated in a hafrashat challah (literally "challah separation") ceremony on Monday, held in the Kfar Chabad religious village as part of a series of activities organized by the military rabbinate.

This ritual, marking fulfillment of a mitzvah (Jewish religious commandment), involves setting aside a portion of dough that is to be baked into bread, and also prayers by women for good health, a suitable mate and other wishes.

Women participating in the 'hafrashat challah' ritual on Nov. 23, 2015. The new IDF recruits were told this was an 'educational' activity.Credit: Gil Cohen-Magen

The women in question, who are in basic training and will serve in the Military Police force, are now waiting to begin a course to prepare them for manning checkpoints. Male soldiers who will participate in the same course are to be inducted in the coming days, leaving a "window" in the female soldiers’ schedule. This is being utilized for activities defined as educational and as “fostering values,” which have been organized by the rabbinate along with the IDF Education Corps.

The mother of one the soldiers expressed her fury on Facebook at the fact that her daughter was taken to such a ceremony immediately after her induction.

The IDF clarified that participation in the ritual was voluntary, and noted that one of the soldiers even opted out of it. An officer commented that “before departure the soldiers were given the option of staying on base and were not required to take part in such activities.” The IDF Spokesman's Office offered the same response.

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