Women have long served in the Israel Defense Forces, notwithstanding strong opposition by the Chief Rabbinate. In the twenty-first century, approximately 25 percent of female graduates of Israel’s religious high school system enlist, despite social disapproval. Israel’s Orthodox community has largely ignored the issue in the past. Recently, however, rabbis and public figures within the religious community have acknowledged the reality of women’s conscription and have shown some willingness to address it. Although religious female soldiers are still atypical, they are no longer viewed as the anathema they once were. This article presents a possible model for this legitimation as a social process. It then describes the relationship between religious women, military service, and conscription in Israel, concluding with a suggestion about broader contexts within which this change can be viewed.
elisheva rosman-stollman is a Senior Lecturer in the Political Studies Department at Bar-Ilan University, whose research focuses on the relationship between religion and the military. Her work has been published in Armed Forces & Society, Middle Eastern Studies, and Israel Studies. Her recent books are For God and Country? Religious Student-Soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces (2014) and Civil-Military Relations in Israel (2014), co-edited with Aharon Kampinsky. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org