Reform rabbis may now officiate at IDF military funerals

Following a petition to Israel’s High Court of Justice, Jewish IDF fallen soldiers may now receive full military honors even without an Orthodox burial.

By World Israel News Staff

The Hiddush Association for Religious Freedom and Equality announced on Thursday that Israel’s High Court of Justice has approved Reform rabbis, and representatives from any stream of Judaism, to officiate at Israel Defense Force (IDF) military funerals.

The decision came three years after Attorney Uri Regev filed a petition on behalf of Hiddush.

Until 2017, all fallen IDF soldiers were buried by a military rabbi following Jewish Orthodox law with full military honors. Since then, the law was changed to allow families of fallen soldiers to determine the style of burial they prefer. However, if the soldier was not buried under the auspices of the military rabbi, he or she would not receive full military honors.

These include the ceremonial carrying of the coffin, a wreath-laying ceremony, an honor guard, a firing squad, and an official military eulogy.

The petition claimed that Jewish soldiers should be allowed burial according to his or her faith, including in a secular or non-Orthodox fashion, and still receive full military tributes.

The agreement now allows representatives from all streams of Judaism to conduct burial ceremonies for fallen soldiers in military cemeteries, and the fallen IDF soldier will also receive full military honors.

Following the Supreme Court hearing, Arutz 7 reported that Regev said, “Conducting a ceremony by a Reform rabbi will be a rare event, but what is more common is a secular military burial. It seems to me that in the wake of our petition, we are entering a new era.”

In a statement publicized by Hiddush, The Jerusalem Post reported that Regev expressed satisfaction with the ruling, saying that it will enable “full and practical recognition of the right of IDF soldiers to grant them the last honor in accordance with their faith and respecting their way of life.”