Anyone who has walked the streets of Bnei Brak and Mea Shearim on Purim know that IDF soldier costumes are one of the most popular for children – but this year, a major haredi organization is fighting to stop the phenomenon.
The Badatz Eida Haredi rabbinical body published a call Friday, on Rosh Chodesh Adar [the beginning of the month in which Purim falls – ed.], for parents and educators to refrain from encouraging children to dress up as Israeli soldiers for the holiday – as part of "the struggle" against the "draft decree" mandating haredi enlistment.
In a letter published in haredi media, the organization claims that previous rabbinical authorities warned about popularizing the IDF costumes and encouraging children to consider adhering to the mandatory military service.
"We stand today against the terrible decree for recruiting young men in Israel to the melting pot of national service and the military," the letter purports. "On the approach of the Purim holiday, wherein the children of Israel tend to dress up like them – and it is known that the greatest leaders of the previous generation forbade it, as the draft decree will force [our children] to assimilate to them and admire the military etc."
The letter does not provide details regarding which of the rabbinical authorities forbade the costumes.
"Therefore, we advise that it is appropriate for parents not to dress their children up as Israeli soldiers or police, and so on," the letter continued. "It is proper to distance and alienate ourselves from them and all they symbolize and express."
The letter further advised teachers and educators not to encourage the trend, as well, saying it is "their duty" to encourage this cultural isolationism, concluding by blessing parents who follow the letter's advice.
A similar directive against the costumes was issued last year by Rabbi Mordechai Blau of the “Guards of Holiness and Education”; however, that organization does not have the same influence or social clout as the Badatz group.