Israel’s chief rabbi receives request to include female soldiers in special IDF prayer

Chief Rabbinate receives request to include female soldiers specifically in prayer for Israel’s security forces.

By World Israel News Staff

Yuval Peleg, whose granddaughter is newly enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) recently requested that the “Prayer for Members of the Israel Defense Forces” specifically include female soldiers.

The prayer is said in many congregations on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays.

“It is inconceivable that when, God forbid, they fall, they are referred to specifically, but when alive they are not,” Peleg wrote, according to Maariv.

Hebrew grammar distinguishes gender. For example, male soldiers are called “chayalim” and female soldiers are called “chayalot.” The masculine tense may also include both men and women.

The soldiers’ prayer presently uses the word “chayalei,” which includes both male and female soldiers. Peleg is asking for the gender specific “chayalot” to be added to the prayer. Although the way the prayer is written now the male tense is also not specifically included.

The original prayer for IDF soldier welfare was compiled by Rabbi Shlomo Goren when he was chief rabbi of the IDF and Israel during its infancy.

This is not the first time that changes to the soldiers’ prayer have been made.

During the Second Intifada, 2000-2005, it was expanded to include “all security forces.”

Then, in 2017, Israel Police Rabbi Rahamim Berachyahu requested and received approval from Chief Rabbi David Lau to add the words “Israel Police officers” to the prayer.

At the time, Rabbi Berachyah said that police men and women protect Israel’s citizens every day of the year, just like Israel’s soldiers, and should be recognized as such.

“In fact, the vast majority of terror victims killed since the start of the current intifada in 2015 were in uniform – either IDF soldiers, or, more commonly, Israel Police and Border Police officers,” reported Arutz 7 in 2017. “As a result, the need to change the prayer became obvious and urgent.”

The prayer presently said is:

He Who blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—may He bless the fighters of the Israel Defense Forces, the officers of the Israel Police, and those who serve in Israeli security forces, who stand guard over our land and the cities of our God, from the border of the Lebanon to the desert of Egypt, and from the Great Sea unto the approach of the Aravah, on the land, in the air, and on the sea.

May the Almighty cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them. May the Holy One, Blessed is He, preserve and rescue our fighters from every trouble and distress and from every plague and illness, and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor.

May He lead our enemies under our soldiers’ sway and may He grant them salvation and crown them with victory. And may there be fulfilled for them the verse: For it is the Lord your God, Who goes with you to battle your enemies for you to save you. And let us say, Amen.

Peleg’s appeal moved from the IDF to the Prime Minister’s Office and then to Chief Rabbi Lau.

“We have forwarded your request to the office of the Chief Rabbinate for the subject to be discussed,” Rabbi Lau informed Peleg.