Jun 15, 2011

IDF Changes Memorial Prayer Service To Include Name Of God

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz has decided to change the army memorial service for the fallen to now say the name of God as part of the prayer service. The memorial prayer will now open with the traditional opening of  "May God remember his sons and daughters," rather than the originally disputed "May the people of Israel remember..".

The original version was under dispute for a long time, between religious and secular, with some alternating with the opening of "May God remember".

Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has put the dispute to rest by making a final decision, announcing the army will use the "May God remember.." version.

From Haaretz:
The prayer at military memorial ceremonies for Israel's fallen soldiers - Yizkor (Remember) - will open with the traditional "May God remember his sons and daughters," Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz ruled this week.

The statement followed an ongoing argument between religious and secular groups on whether the prayer at these memorials should open with "May God remember" or "May the people of Israel remember."

Amikam Gurevich, who hosted the eve of Independence Day torch-lighting ceremonies on Mount Herzl for many years, always opened with "May the people of Israel remember." Subsequent announcers have taken up the "May God remember" version. A similar process has occurred in many Memorial Day services, often at the bequest of military rabbis and religious bereaved families.

Former television journalist Menashe Raz was angry to hear the altered version a couple of years ago and complained to senior IDF officers. They promised him that the chief military rabbi would restore the "May the people of Israel remember" version. Despite the promises, last year Raz heard the "May God remember" version in services again.

Before the Memorial Day service at Palmachim this year, Raz contacted the base commander and persuaded him to instruct the announcer to open with "May the people of Israel remember." Later it was learned that the base rabbi and religious bereaved parents protested against the change.

Raz asked Gantz to restore the "May the people of Israel remember" version. "What unites us all, secular and religious, is the duty to remember the fallen soldiers in Israel's wars," he wrote. "To me personally and to many like me, God is not the one called on to remember. It is incumbent to see to it that even the chief military rabbi, who talks so much about unity, makes sure in the coming years to say "May the people of Israel remember."

The chief of staff's office this week sent Raz a reply, stating that the prayer version the IDF is bound by is "May God remember," hence this is the version read out in ceremonies.
Gantz replaced the originally nominated Yoav Galant after he had to withdraw when he was revealed to be involved in a scandal involving land acquisition, after Yair Naveh temporarily replaced Galant. Naveh would have been the first religious IDF Chief of Staff in Israel's history, and I think he probably would not have been able to get away with making such a decision, as opponents would claim his religious bias. Gantz was able to do so more easily as he does so from a secular standpoint..

I wonder how, if at all, this change will affect the relationship between the army and the religious sector...


  1. you got the story wrong (actually haaretz wanred you to get the story wrong).

    there was no change in the nusach. the nusach mentionong god is the oficial idf nusach since the 70's. is actualy apearce that way in pekudut matcal.

  2. no change in nusach. the ramatkal was really just quoting the law as written in the IDF books.. you are correct.

    however the dispute is indisputable, and has been runnign for many years. Somewhere along the way the nusach got changed, and the law was mostly ignored.
    Srugim also writes about it: http://www.srugim.co.il/19985-%D7%94%D7%A8%D7%9E%D7%98%D7%9B%D7%9C-%D7%94%D7%A0%D7%97%D7%94-%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%9E%D7%A8-%D7%99%D7%96%D7%9B%D7%95%D7%A8-%D7%90-%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%94%D7%99%D7%9D-%D7%91%D7%9E%D7%A7%D7%95%D7%9D-%D7%99

  3. The original nominee for Chief of Staff, who was forced to withdraw his candidacy, was Yoav Galant. Yair Naveh was not accused of misappropriating land.

  4. Rafi, indeed you should change the wording of your original post about this, since Anonymous is correct.
    Yair Naveh, the religious general, was a substitution, whom Defense Minister Barak said would be only a temporary substitute (for some limited tenure, apparently) because he could not appoint Yoav Galant whom he had intended to appoint until the last minute when the land-misappropriation prevented him from doing so.
    In the end Barak appointed the present Chief of Staff before he ever appointed Naveh as a temporary replacement.

  5. Rafi please clear Yair's name for posterity!

  6. I wrote about this on my Blog (www.mostlykosher.blogspot.com) - Harav Goren changed the wording in 1967- a fact that Ha'aretz forgot to mention. This has been the official text for over 40 years, only certain soldiers have refused to go along about it. You can also see what Menachem Mendel wrote about it on his blog - http://menachemmendel.net/blog/2011/06/14/whos-going-to-remember/

  7. fixed. thanks for the correction


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