Skip To Content
Get Our Newsletter

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

Israeli Defense Minister Bans Army’s Chief Rabbi From Military Ceremonies

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A meeting between Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi and the Israeli army’s chief rabbi was canceled after the defense minister banned the chief rabbi from military ceremonies.

On Saturday, Avigdor Liberman banned Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef and two other rabbis from the military events after they criticized the Israel Defense Forces’ mixed-gender units. The meeting scheduled for Monday was canceled a day earlier.

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, chief rabbi of Safed and a member of the Chief Rabbinate Council, said in an interview last week with Army Radio that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should fire IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot over his decision to allow female soldiers in combat units.

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner wrote on the Orthodox news website Kipa in response to a query that it was forbidden to join mixed-gender units, and said it was better to refuse to serve than enter a mixed-gender unit. Aviner is the rabbi of the Beit El settlement and head of the Ateret Cohamin Yeshiva.

Liberman said rabbis who are state employees “must represent the state” and therefore would not be allowed at official events until they withdraw their comments, The Times of Israel reported.

“They are state employees who, among other things, receive a salary from taxpayers,” he also said.

Eliyahu’s office reportedly threatened to file a lawsuit against Liberman unless he rescinds the order.




Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free under an Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives Creative Commons license as long as you follow our republishing guidelines, which require that you credit Foward and retain our pixel. See our full guidelines for more information.

To republish, copy the HTML, which includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline, and credit to Foward. Have questions? Please email us at

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.