For the past week, MTA have been volunteering with the Israel Defence Forces, as part of the Sar-el programme, and in doing so, have gained an appreciation of the work of the army.
Sharing the base with soldiers has given the group a taster of what can be involved in defending our country. These heroes are the most inspiring people in the country, carrying out their duties with pride, often in the face of real danger.
But as you’d expect in Israel, it’s not just an army. It’s a Jewish army. This is probably the only place in the world where the khaki uniforms include skirts for religious women who wish to serve their country and dress modestly. The bases across Israel are all equipped with two kitchens and a synagogue, and every soldier is given a Tanach upon being recruited. Indeed, the army rabbinate (which itself is an IDF division) ensures that soldiers can fulfil their roles in an ethical, responsible and halachic way.
Army rabbis develop responses and solutions for the latest military equipment, as well as guidance on current technology. For example, lengthy discussions take place regarding the use of mobile phones on Shabbat. The rabbinate advises that if a soldier must carry their phone with them – for potentially life-saving purposes – they should look at the time on it at regular intervals, therefore benefiting from it as a clock, and not just using it as a phone.
Everything is taken into consideration so that Jewish people can join the army without fear of compromising their religious beliefs. They are guardians of our Holy Land, and as such, they are given the opportunity to act as a holy people.
Bevirkat Chaverim LeTorah Va'Avodah