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Israel Defense Forces: Chaplaincy Corps

The IDF Chaplaincy (Military Rabbinate) was founded, along with the IDF, in 1948. In the same year, a Chaplain General was appointed, and the first general orders for the establishment of the Chaplaincy were issued. The need for the establishment of the IDF Chaplaincy arose due to the necessity of reconciling Halachic (religious legal) problems with the exigencies of military conditions and administering to the religious needs of those who serve in the IDF. The IDF Chaplaincy is not subordinate to the (civilian) Chief Rabbinate of Israel, though all Halachic decisions of the Chaplain General are recognized as halachically binding by the Chief Rabbinate. The current Chaplain General is Brig. Gen. Rabbi Israel Weiss, who has held the position since 2000. The Chaplain General is appointed by the Chief of Staff, and is the highest religious authority in the IDF, and the advisor to the Chief of Staff on religious matters.

There is a representative of the Chaplaincy in every unit of the IDF. Such personnel includes chaplains (ordained rabbis), and Religious Affairs Officers and NCOs, whose tasks are to fulfill all religious needs of the unit, and for the soldiers as individuals. Higher-ranking chaplains serve staff of commands and services.

Soldiers of the IDF Chaplaincy undergo basic training as do all IDF soldiers, and some soldiers are posted at the Chaplaincy after serving in field units. The IDF Chaplaincy itself provides training to its staff, and conducts courses which deal with theoretical religious-academic problems, and with situations which are likely to arise in military practice. Many chaplains have been combat officers or have served in combat positions.

Sources: Israel Defense Forces