New Orthodox IDF Track Will Allow Increased Service for Soldiers


idf-soldierA new arrangement will permit hesder yeshiva bochurim to spend more time in the army portion of their military service and less learning. The new arrangement will let participants in the hesder program, who divide their time between active service and learning in yeshiva, to spend two full, uninterrupted years in the army. The new program, which has already been approved by the Israel Defense Forces, is a four-year track that will allow more hesder students to serve in separate units only for yeshiva students. It consists of one year of yeshiva study followed by two years in a combat unit and then a final year in yeshiva. The current program will continue. It consists of three and a half years of yeshiva study only 16 months of active duty. Most yeshiva heads prefer this arrangement.The new arrangement is aimed at young men who do not want a five-year commitment with a prolonged period of study. It was initiated by the IDF in order to increase the active-duty portion of the hesder arrangement in order to solve personnel shortages in certain combat units. The yeshivas associated with the hesder program had objected to it.

The association of hesder yeshivos presented the new track as helping the IDF with its human resources problems. In practice the yeshivos have no intention of allowing talmidim who are already in the 16-month military service track to switch to the new one. The yeshivos’ intention is that religious youth who would otherwise have enlisted for three years of regular service will now sign up for the new track, increasing the number of hesder students. If large numbers of new recruits take that route it could even reduce the manpower available to the IDF.

This year about 1,300 hesder students in 56 yeshivas joined the program. This has been increasing by about 5 percent a year, and another two or three new yeshivas are opened every year, the hesder yeshiva association said.

{Yair Israel/Haaretz}