|Allegiance||Israeli Defense Force|
|Rabbi Shlomo Goren|
The Military Rabbinate (Hebrew: חיל הרבנות הצבאית, Heil HaRabanut HaTzvait) is a corps in the Israel Defense Forces that provides religious services to soldiers, primarily to Jews but also including non-Jews, and makes decisions on issues of religion and military affairs. The Military Rabbinate is headed by the Chief Military Rabbi, who is ranked a Brigadier General. The current Chief Military Rabbi is Rafi Peretz.
The Military Rabbinate constitutes the body responsible for religious institutions in the military. In every unit or military base there are Military Rabbinate soldiers assigned responsibility for assuring religious services, and in particular, the Kashrut of the kitchen and the maintenance of the synagogue and its inventory. Actively serving soldiers can request from the Rabbinate representatives to perform marriage ceremonies as well as the brit mila.
The Military Rabbinate is responsible for treating the bodies of soldiers from the Halakha standpoint, including the identification and post-mortem treatment of bodies, and conducting military funerals. In the past decade, the use of Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System was implemented, setting the IDF at the cutting edge of fingerprint identification technology. The Military Rabbinate also attends to the burial of enemy soldiers and the exhuming in conjunction with prisoner exchanges. Prior to the establishment of ZAKA, it was also responsible for treating the victims of suicide attacks. More recently, it was placed in charge of dismantling of the cemetery in Gush Katif during the Gaza disengagement plan.
The Military Rabbinate was founded in 1948 by Rabbi Shlomo Goren, who headed it until 1968. Until 2000, the Chief Military Rabbi tended to remain in their positions for a considerable period of time. After Rabbi Goren, from 1968-1977, the Chief Military Rabbi was Rabbi Mordechai Peron. From 1977–2000, the position was held by Rabbi Gad Navon. From 2000-2006, the Chief Military Rabbi was Rabbi Israel Weiss.
Weiss introduced many changes into the Rabbinate including giving soldiers much more access to the unit and increasing the Rabbinate's dealings with the religious soldiers. Weiss is infamous for being the chief rabbi during the 2005 disengagement from Gaza and was in charge of disinterring 48 graves from the Gush Katif cemetery. For that role, he has been criticized and attacked by opponents of the disengagement.
Succeeding him, Brigadier-General Rontzki began his service in the rabbinate on March 27, 2006. The appointment was recommended by the then Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz and approved by the then Minister of Defense, Shaul Mofaz.
This new appointment was seen as a direct consequence of the controversial remarks by Israel Weiss wherein he appeared to have agreed with the former Chief Ashkenazi National Authority of Religious Services Rabbi, Avraham Shapira, who called on soldiers who are religious Jews to disobey orders to forcefully remove settlers from the Gaza Strip during the Gaza disengagement plan. While Israel Weiss retracted and apologized for the "slip up", the event drew a great deal of controversy in military circles and in Israel in general.
2009 incitement controversy
According to Israeli left-wing human rights group Yesh Din, during the 2009 Gaza conflict, the military rabbinate distributed a religious booklet that warned against showing mercy to enemies. The publications compared modern-day Palestinians to the Biblical Philistines and denied the historical existence of a Palestinian national identity. According to Yesh Din, the booklet could have been interpreted by soldiers as a call to act outside the confines of the international laws of warfare.
A Haaretz editorial described the booklets as "sermons that preach, in the name of ostensibly religious values, the killing of civilians" and which "opposes all the combat values formulated in the IDF throughout the generations". The booklet includes sermons written by religious Zionist leader Shlomo Aviner. It also accuses the material of fostering an atmosphere in which extremist sermons by Yitzhak Ginsburg praising Baruch Goldstein (described as "chauvinist and racist incitement") can be disseminated.
Following a series of inquiries, both in the Knesset and within the IDF, it was determined that the distribution of the alleged booklets took place in a few isolated incidents, by non-military personnel, without proper supervision of Military Rabbinate representatives. Following this incident, guidelines were set to ensure the authority of both the Military Rabbinate and the Education and Youth Corps within the IDF.
Rabbi Yosef Controversy
In December 2012, the Military Rabbinate rejected a request made about a year early by openly gay Orthodox rabbi Ron Yosef to address Haredi and Religious troops despite over 100 requests from gay troops to HOD (the gay support organization her runs) for help. This decision was reached despite the fact that least 37 of these requests came from within the Military Rabbinate itself. According to Captain Ofer Han, the chief military rabbi's assistant, in a document to explained the decision to the IDF ombudsman
"at such delicate times, in which the Military Rabbinate is in the eye of many storms and is strictly examined in every move it takes, there is a problem allowing a person like Rabbi Ron Yosef to enter IDF bases....
"Even if there is no fundamental problem with his opinions and conduct, the Military Rabbinate is not interested in provoking public rows which may be sparked following his lectures in IDF bases."
Given the fact that the Rabbinate had allowed various rabbis to address many hundreds of troops during the previous year——including speakers critical of Israeli and policy and some who harangued troops to disobey orders, this decision created a storm of controversy. Earlier that year (in January), the Israel Gay Youth (IGY) Movement released a study stating that at least half the homosexual soldiers who serve in the IDF suffer from violence and homophobia. At the time IGY's head stated that "I am happy to say that the intention among the top brass is to change that." If that was indeed the case, why was Yosef, who is a visible and well-known gay figure in Israel, denied a courtesy to him that had been given to others?
Military Rabbinate Corps pin
-  Official IDF Insignia website
- IDF Rabbinate official website
- IDF Rabbinate official website
- IDF to disinter 48 Gaza graves Sunday
- A Right Wing Activist Attacks Chief Military Rabbi Israel Weiss in Hebrew
- "Gaza war rabbinical edict draws protest in Israel". Reuters. 2009-01-26.
- Harel, Amos (2009-01-26). "IDF rabbinate publication during Gaza war: We will show no mercy on the cruel". Haaretz.
- "A rabbinate gone wild". Haaretz. 2009-01-27.
- Fikrish, Tuli (2008-08-30). "The Military Rabbinate introduces: a revolution". Hatzofe. Unknown parameter
- Military Rabbinate Rejects Gay Rabbi by Yoav Zitun. Ynet News. Published on December 7, 2012.
- Yaakov Katz (12 June 2012). "Does viral IDF Gay Pride photo show full picture?". Jerusalem Post.
-  Official IDF Insignia website