IDF Rabbinate to Be Stripped of Jewish Awareness Programming on Friday

As part of broader reform, the Jewish awareness department will be merged with the Jewish identity branch and placed under the jurisdiction of the Personnel Directorate.

A basic training graduation ceremony held for troops from the Haredi Nahal battalion at Masada in 2012.
Alex Levac

The Israel Defense Forces' Jewish awareness department will be removed from the authority of the Military Rabbinate and placed under the jurisdiction of the Personnel Directorate on Friday, a step taken as part of a broader reorganization of religious programming decided on by Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot.

As part of this reform, the Jewish awareness department will be merged with the army’s Jewish identity branch, which is currently part of the Education Corps. 

In a letter to senior officers in January, Eisenkot ascribed his decision to the need “to preserve the IDF as a national army in a democratic state, which addresses that which unifies and is shared by all its soldiers and that fosters universal service.”

Officers from the Military Rabbinate and from the Education Corps are to be united in a single unit that will create and distribute programming to foster Jewish identity and Jewish awareness. A new steering committee is to advise Personnel Directorate commander, Maj. Gen. Hagai Topolansky, on programming content, policy and methodology for a period of two years. Members will include Chief Military Rabbi Brig. Gen. Rafi Peretz, Chief Education Officer Brig. Gen. Avner Paz-Tzuk, among others.