Charedim and the IDF

Regarding Reba Auslander’s “Why are you here? Visiting Israel in an unprecedented time” (May 10), I give Ms. Auslander a lot of credit for coming to Israel to help during a difficult war, and for writing a good and honest summary of what she saw, experienced, and learned during her two weeks here in Israel.

There is one point, however, that I would like to clarify: She writes, correctly, that most ultra-Orthodox men do not serve in the Israel Defense Forces and many (not all, as she indicates) receive state subsidies to study in yeshivot full time and help support their typically large families. I agree that this is an unfair and untenable situation that must change. But readers should be aware that a few hundred ultra-Orthodox men did voluntarily join the army in the early days of this war, and countless others (male and female) have stepped up to volunteer in a wide variety of capacities. Change is on the horizon; it’s just slow and difficult.

Furthermore, it’s important to understand that in contrast to ultra-Orthodox (charedi) Israelis, religious Zionist (dati leumi) Israelis are vastly overrepresented in the IDF and especially in its officer ranks. Tragically, dati leumi Israelis are also vastly overrepresented among the fallen during this Gaza war, by one credible estimate comprising nearly half of combat casualties despite making up just 12% of the general population.

Abby Leichman
Ma’ale Adumim, Israel

Hitting straight from the heart

“The day I was almost lynched” by Rabbi Boteach (May 10) was a refreshing call to wake up, stop talking, texting, and posting, and show up to be counted. Notice how the whole article did not mention any political luminaries. He hit us straight from his heart and his own recent personal experience. We need this every week. The situation demands an experienced leader who can provide solid advice which will lead us to a better result.

Stanley Osur 

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