Religious Soldiers Refuse To Enter Church On IDF Tour


idf-soldierOfficers and soldiers of the Engineering Corps elite “Yahalom” (“Diamond”) commando training school have expressed concern over an upcoming educational tour of Jerusalem and its surrounding area, scheduled for Jerusalem Day on May 20, during which they are to enter a church and hear a lecture by a monk.

Some of the ten officers and soldiers called the scheduled event “idol worship” or the worship of foreign gods, which, they say, negates the Halachah (Jewish religious law) and prevents them from conforming to a religious way of life within the military framework.

The educational tour was planned recently by the Israel Defense Forces Education and Youth Corps and is to include sites in Jerusalem, as well as a visit to a church in Abu Ghosh, an Arab Israeli town west of Jerusalem, where a monk will address the troops.

When religious soldiers serving in the Yahalom unit realized the tour included a stop at a church, they approached their superiors in efforts to avoid participating in that part of the tour, which they described as “unworthy.” The soldiers told their friends and relatives that the decision to visit a church constituted a “total lack of consideration” for their feelings and religious way of life.

“Even if they allow us to avoid that part of the tour by waiting outside the church, it is not right that they organized such a visit that divides the unit for the sake of diplomacy that has nothing to do with the IDF and Zionism. After so many requests, why can’t we organize a tour that will be interesting to everyone, relevant to everyone and bring us together?” a soldier told a relative.

The soldier added that he felt hurt by people calling him an extremist. “I am definitely not [an extremist]. I am only making minimal demands to enable me to preserve my religious way of life, my feelings and the unity of my unit,” he said.

Several soldiers said they were considering sending a petition to the IDF Ombudsman, after receiving no response from other relevant military bodies.

This will not be the first time an IDF educational tour will include a stop at a church. Several similar tours have taken place in the past without incident.

The IDF Spokesman’s Unit issued a statement saying “the Education and Youth Corps conducts a wide range of activities for soldiers, in an attempt to familiarize them with the different populations within Israeli society. Among these activities there are also tours of holy sites. A soldier who cannot visit a church due to his religious beliefs, is not obligated to do so.”

{Israel Hayom/ Newscenter}


  1. Where all of you Israel hating posters now? These soldiers stood up for the Torah and are doing the right thing.

  2. After centuries of oppression in Israel and the diaspora by various churches of different denominations , in the east and the west

    Is it not understandable why there would be a feeling of uncomfortability of entering those places!!!!

  3. Can you imagine the uproar if they had to go to a Shul & have to listen to a shmuz from a Rav?
    But then again, a Shul is not part of “different populations within Israel society” according to the IDF.
    No, that would constitue ‘kefir dat’, forcing religion on others.
    Any religion – but not your own.
    Sheker, yes – Emes, never!