Some rabbis fear expanding women’s roles in the Israeli army could lead to sin

Source: Religion News Service

JERUSALEM (RNS) As an Orthodox Jewish woman, Chen Ofir is exempt from Israel’s mandatory military service. But she decided to volunteer anyway “because if you live in Israel you should be contributing to the country,” she said.

A year and a half after joining the Air Force, Ofir is halfway through her stint as a flight simulator instructor. Despite the rigors of military life she continues to keep kosher and observe the Sabbath.

Ofir is one of a growing number of Orthodox Jewish women who see no contradiction between serving in the military and maintaining a religious lifestyle – a trend that some Israeli rabbis hope to end.

In 2015, the most recent year for which numbers are available, 2,100 Orthodox women volunteered to serve in the IDF, the Israel Defense Forces, up from 1,500 women in 2013. The increase is due in part to the IDF’s greater effort to accommodate the religious needs of these soldiers, and the military’s decision to open all but 15 percent of military positions to women.

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