(Not) Becoming the Norm: Military Service by Religious Israeli Women as a Social Legitimation Process

Title(Not) Becoming the Norm: Military Service by Religious Israeli Women as a Social Legitimation Process
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsRosman-Stollman, Elisheva
JournalIsrael Studies Review
Pagination42 - 60
Date Published03/2018

While religious women have always served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as part of universal conscription, the Chief Rabbinate still opposes military service for women in general, and religious women in particular. In the 21st century, approximately 20% of religious women graduates of the religious high school system in Israel enlist. They remain a part of their social group despite social disapproval. Interestingly, after many years of ignoring the subject almost completely within the majority of Israel’s Jewish orthodox community, recently there is a palatable change. Rabbis and public figures within the religious community have spoken more clearly about women’s conscription and are no longer pretending that the issue doesn’t exist. While religious women soldiers are still far from the norm, they are no longer the anathema they once were. The present paper discusses this change as a process of legitimation. The article begins with a discussion of social legitimacy in the present context. After presenting a possible model for legitimation as a social process, it describes the relationship between religious women, military service and conscription in Israel in light of the four stages the model suggests. In its conclusion, the article suggests broader contexts within which this change can be viewed. [Author]

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