Former IDF Chief Rabbi Avi Ronsky says his party – the Jewish Home, headed by Naftali Bennett – must leave the government coalition, and thus possibly bring about new elections, if a recent decision by the IDF Chief of Staff is not rescinded.
Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkott, who assumed the post of IDF Chief of Staff only nine months ago, has reportedly decided to close the "Jewish Awareness" department of the IDF's Chief Rabbinate.
The department in question works to strengthen the national and Jewish morale among IDF soldiers. Its rabbis made the rounds of IDF units during Operation Protective Edge last year, fortifying and enhancing battle spirit throughout the army, based on traditional Jewish sources and inspirational talk. The lecturers were often called to various locations or missions on a "right now" basis. An 80-page booklet recounting the soldiers' appreciation for these efforts was published shortly afterwards.
Rabbi Ronsky, who served as IDF Chief Rabbi from 2006 to 2010, was he who advanced the Jewish Awareness department, in terms of both budgeting and moral support. "I told then-Chief of Staff Dan Halutz that my accepting the position of Chief Rabbi was contingent upon the issue of strengthening this department," he told Arutz Sheva.
"Halutz told me himself that he agrees with me that the Chief Rabbis must engage not only in Jewish logistics, but also in Jewish education and consciousness," Rabbi Ronsky said.
He said that he passed on the news of Eisenkott's apparent decision to his colleagues in founding the Jewish Home party: Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. "As far as I'm concerned, there must be a coalition crisis over this matter. We're talking here about the Jewish character of the IDF. The Jewish Home must quit the government coalition if this decision is allowed to go through."
"The idea that the Education Department of the IDF can deal with this topic is unacceptable," Rabbi Ronsky said. "Heaven forbid that that should happen. The Education Department has a totally different mission, while the Rabbinate knows how to deal with matters of Judaism."