Agudath Israel Opposes Registration of Orthodox Women in the U.S.

A warning that the Orthodox Jewish community will resist any attempt to register women as a first step toward the reinstatement of a military draft in this country, was the substance of a strongly worded statement by Agudath Israel of America. The statement said that the foremost Orthodox Jewish scholars have already issued an edict against the drafting of women into the military or national service when that issue surfaced in Israel.

Concern by the Orthodox Jewish movement mounted when the issue came under serious consideration in the Congress. Although temporarily shelved as a result of a negative 259-155 vote in the House of Representatives, it did ask President Carter to study and report to Congress on whether women should be subject to registration if the selective service system is reinstated. In its statement, Agudath Israel explained that its stand stemmed from a religious and moral perspective.

Carter was urged to reject any attempt to register women and to resist pressure in support of extending registration to include women “because it represents an issue of high moral value for so many Americans.” The statement said that “this issue is of major importance to the Orthodox Jewish community because it threatens the very base of its survival: the family unit.”

Agudath Israel also sent telegrams to members of Congress, stating, in part: “To include women would deal a severe blow to the traditional concept of the American family and place Orthodox Jews in an unsolvable conflict — the mandates of their religious conscience versus the law of the land.” Agudath Israel said that in opposing the registration of women it was not necessarily taking a position on the registration or draft issue in general.

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