For the 1st time on a Simchat Torah holiday in an IDF synagogue, a Female soldier was called to recite blessings over Torah portion.
Will this be the beginning of a new tradition in the IDF?
By Yehuda Shlezinger
A religiously observant female soldier was called to the Torah last week during Simchat Torah services, setting a precedent for the IDF. The soldier received what is known as an aliyah to the Torah, during which she recited a blessing over a Torah portion — a custom that is typically reserved for men in mainstream Orthodox synagogues. The incident sparked a firestorm on a base where many Orthodox soldiers were serving.
Called up: A female soldier is called to the Torah (illustration) – Photo: Ami Shoman
The incident occurred during a prayer service in an IDF synagogue on a navy training base in Haifa. The Kipa national religious news website reported on Sunday that the service comprised mainly hesder yeshiva students, who combine religious study with military service. The soldiers were taking part in a navy combat training course.
During the prayer service, a female soldier, a graduate of one of the well-known national religious seminaries, rose for an aliyah, causing a controversy among the soldiers and some of the officers present. Ultimately, they decided not to stop her after she had been formally called to receive the honor.
According to the website, an argument broke out among soldiers. Some said that most Jewish religious legal authorities did not permit women to be called to the Torah, and began to protest. Others argued that it was customary on the holiday of Simchat Torah for the entire congregation to go up to the Torah. Moreover, the gabbai (an officiant running the service) had called the woman up and it would be inappropriate to publicly embarrass her.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Office said in response that “in the synagogue on the base male and female soldiers pray along with local citizens. During the prayer, which was conducted by a citizen and resident of the area, a female cadet got up to recite blessings over the Torah. After the incident, there was an investigation, and the regulations were clarified on the base regarding future incidents.”
View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=12251