Three female soldiers were asked Wednesday to leave the premises of the Tzfira girls’ religious high school in Beit Dagan for attending a Memorial Day ceremony in their uniforms. The school’s headmistress told them privately that they were “a daily failure” of the institution.
According to people who were present at the event, a teacher in the high school approached one of the girls and told her: “The way you’re dressed, it would have been better off had you not come at all.”
The soldiers, all school alumnae, entered the auditorium and stood in the back. But shortly after the ceremony began the headmistress came to the girls and said, “Some people here feel ill at ease with the way you’re dressed, I ask that as soon as the ceremony is over, you leave quietly and quickly and make sure no one sees you.”
The girls, who were initially stunned, decided to leave at once. It wasn’t entirely clear whether the headmistress was referring to the girls’ IDF uniforms — army service for women is frowned upon in almost all Orthodox circles in Israel — or to the fact that they were wearing army-issue pants rather than skirts, which are considered immodest in stringent circles.
Lilach, the mother of one of the soldiers, told the NRG news site that her daughter “called me crying and told me what had happened. She came here with her friends and they were very upset. They suffered a massive humiliation. It’s an institution that was their home for six years and suddenly they were given a slap in the face.
“She told me that as they entered the auditorium, a speaker on the stage was saying how Memorial Day was a day of unity connecting all parts of the nation. She said: ‘Mother, I felt that the way they treated us is the exact opposite of the unity they were discussing on stage at that moment,” Lilach said.
The mother assessed that the girls’ high school “does not encourage girls to join the army – this is an understatement – and this may also be the reason they received such treatment.”
A former classmate of the girls wrote an angry letter to the rabbi of the school. She accused him that by “kicking away my friends for coming to the school in uniform, you destroyed the perception of you as honoring the IDF. So they wore uniforms, so they ‘encourage’ enlistment, so what?”
The rabbi, Amir Edrai, responded to the letter, saying that the girls’ arrival at the school “on such a holy day, to spit in our faces — it’s simply shameful.”
Edrai later called the girls but did not apologize. According to Lilach, in his talk with her daughter he repeated the accusation that their behavior was a “failure” of his educational institution. “I think the anti-educational way in which he behaved is the real failure,” said the mother.