Tal Law

Since arriving back to Jerusalem from my visit to Australia, the rollercoaster ride that is my life resumed with added fervour. Most of the chaos is due to the Supreme Court’s decision not to renew ‘Tal Law‘.

My role in the IDF specifically relates to the general ‘ins and outs’ of the Haredi community’s relationship with the army.

It is a complicated relationship. I would like to describe it as a ‘love-hate’ relationship; with a bit of group therapy we would both understand each other, and move forward arm in arm skipping toward a brighter future.

But I think “love to hate” would be a more apt description.

‘Tal Law’ is the law which allows the Hareidim the choice to study Torah instead searving in the military, though this decision does not come without the bureaucratic complications of the army.

Any move on their part has tp be formally request and approved by, well, me: If they want to fly out of the country, if they want to work, if they have children, the list goes on.

Coincidently, my commander’s name is Tal.

Soldiers here feel that the choice of these Ultra Orthodox men to blockade themselves in their Yeshivot and subsequent evasion of military service presents them even more so as leeches of the State.

I feel the IDF could do more to absorb this group of people into the military system by making it an environment the Haredim would feel more comfortable in.

In 2011, of the approximate 25,000 registered ultra orthodox men who are eligible to draft in Jerusalem, approximately 450 drafted into combat or intelligence units in a Hareidi framework. Many more do a national service though.

The decision not to renew the law has obviously lit a flame of excitement in the usual tête-à-tête between the two worlds.

As it stands, until August there will be no change in the procedure of their deferment of military service. For some reason I don’t think the IDF will start to even think about it until then either.  A country which is constantly on the verge of an existential threat doesn’t deal with things until it has to. It has bigger fish to fry.  If the Haredim had a nuclear facility it might be a bit more of a concern.

As a new immigrant, my army experience has immensely helped my absorption into the country’s culture. It has taught me; to appreciate Misrachi music, how to stand my ground in an argument, how to be a bureaucrat, and overall has gelled me and my fellow comrades together against the thing we hate most – the military body that conscripted us. But most of all, it has taught me the art of chchchchchchutzpa!

The question I am asking now though is, what will it do to the cultural ‘melting pot’ that is the IDF; should it add the Ultra Orthodox into the mix?

About the Author
George Schneider is an Australian born new immigrant to Israel. Prior to his move he completed his BA at the University of Sydney in English Literature and Biblical Studies. He currently works in informal Jewish Education and serves in the IDF.