Female Israeli soldier called to Torah at military synagogue

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Orthodox female Israeli soldier was called up to the Torah during holiday services on a military base in what was being called a first.

At Simchat Torah services last week at a base in Haifa, the soldier received an aliyah from the gabbai, a civilian employee of the military, according to Kipa, a Modern Orthodox Hebrew-language website. The site said it was the first time a woman has been called to the Torah in a military synagogue.


Many of the men participating in the service were Orthodox and part of the Hesder Yeshiva program. While they were upset or uncomfortable with the situation, they decided not to prevent the soldier from having her aliyah in order not to embarrass her.

According to Kipa, the soldier, who is training to be a Navy intelligence officer, graduated from a major national religious women’s seminary and participated regularly in services on the base.

Israeli military bases operate according to traditional Orthodox Jewish law, which does not allow women to be called to the Torah.

A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces told Kipa in a statement, “Following the incident, an inquiry was initiated to clear the air and to clarify policies regarding such occurrences in the future.”