Chief Sephardic rabbi says ultra-Orthodox will leave Israel if forced into army

Chief Sephardic rabbi says ultra-Orthodox will leave Israel if forced into army

The Times of Israel reports:

Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef warned Saturday that ultra-Orthodox Jews will leave Israel en masse if the government ends exemptions of mandatory military enlistment enjoyed by the community.

“If they force us to go to the army, we’ll all move abroad,” Yosef said during a weekly lecture. “We’ll buy a ticket… We’ll go there.”

“The [biblical] tribe of Levi was exempted from the army,” he noted by way of comparison, referring to the biblical tribe from which the priesthood was drawn in Temple times. “They didn’t take them; absolutely not.”

Yosef is the son of the late Shas party spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef and wields major influence with the faction, which is part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition.

“All these secular people don’t understand that without kollels and yeshivas, the army would not be successful,” he said, referring to institutions where religious men study Jewish texts rather than working or enlisting. “The soldiers only succeed thanks to those learning Torah.”

Pressure is mounting for the coalition to end the exemption from military and national service for the ultra-Orthodox community, especially amid the war against Hamas.

The IDF’s Personnel Directorate told a Knesset committee last month that some 66,000 young men from the ultra-Orthodox community, the fastest-growing sector of the population, received an exemption from military service over the past year, reportedly an all-time record. Some 540 of them decided to enlist since the war started, the IDF said.

In 2022, the Haredi population was some 1,280,000, about 13.3% of Israel’s total population, according to the Israel Democracy Institute. By 2050, nearly one-quarter of Israel’s population will be ultra-Orthodox, according to projections by Israel’s National Economic Council. [Continue reading…]

Comments are closed.