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Mishloah Manot Greetings

ALTHOUGH THERE are some exceptions, in haredi circles anything to do with service in the Israel Defense Force is taboo. Violent anti-recruitment demonstrations are held every few months in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak. It’s bad enough when male members of the haredi community are called to serve, but when females are called, and are even arrested for failure to respond to the call-up notice, the riots get completely out of hand. It is therefore understandable that the haredi community is furious that Emunah, a national religious women’s organization, has a program called Mechinat Lapidot, which is an innovative preparatory program for religiously observant girls who are planning to do military service rather than civilian National Service. Both are equally important in that they represent a contribution to the state, but there are some Orthodox young women who believe that they can be more effective in the army, and who derive greater satisfaction from being in a security related operation than in a social services environment. Mechnat Lapidot is one of only two programs in Israel providing solutions for a rapidly growing need for emotional support, physical training and preparation, and spiritual reinforcement to young Orthodox women who have chosen this path to serve their country.

Mechinat Lapidot, located in Ma’aleh Michmash, a National Religious community township in the Binyamin region a 15-minute drive from the Jerusalem outer suburb of Pisgat Ze’ev, was recently asked to move after most of the town’s population voted against the program on religious grounds.

Realizing that increasing numbers of young Orthodox women wanted to serve in the army without compromising their religious values, Emunah decided to continue with the program. Mechinat Lapidot will soon be relocated to a site near Ma’aleh Ephraim. The whole issue of religious women serving in the IDF will be one of the subjects for discussion at the 10th World Emunah Convention and Leadership Mission taking place in many parts of Israel from January 24 to February 1.

Emunah projects and programs are mostly of a national nature, with branches all over the country.

Convention participants will visit Mechinat Lapidot in Ma’aleh Michmash before the move to Ma’aleh Ephraim, and will talk to some of the young women who have chosen to enlist.

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