Ex-Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s call spurs yeshivas to nix summer breaks

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Sephardic yeshivas in Israel reportedly have answered a call by former Chief Sephardic Rabbi Ovadia Yosef to cancel their summer breaks over a new haredi Orthodox conscription law.

Yosef said Saturday night that Torah study and prayer should continue uninterrupted over the government’s decision to formulate a law that would draft haredi Orthodox men into the military or national service, according to reports. He said the haredi Orthodox were in a “state of emergency.”

He called on the yeshivas to cancel their three-week breaks, known as “bein hazmannin,” or between the times, which usually begin on the fast of the 9th of Av and last until the beginning of the month of Elul, in order to continue studying and praying.

On Sunday, a three-member team was appointed to write a new law following the recommendations of the Plesner committee, which include universal service for all Israeli citizens, including mandating the draft of haredi Orthodox men. In February, the Israeli Supreme Court had declared that the Tal Law, which allowed haredi Orthodox men to defer service indefinitely, to be unconstitutional and set Aug. 1 as the deadline for a new law to be passed.

Yosef also called on synagogues to add the Avinu Malkenu prayer twice a day. The prayer reads in part “Our father, our king, tear up the evil sentence.”

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