Chabad overseas work may qualify as national service in Israel

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The work of 100 Israeli men serving overseas as emissaries on behalf of Chabad can count as national service, a Knesset committee decided.

The Special Committee for the Equal Sharing of the Burden on Monday voted to include the plan as part of legislation that would require most haredi Orthodox Israeli men to serve in the military or perform national service.

The legislation is being prepared for its second and third reading in front of the Knesset plenum.

The committee approved the plan, recommended by Elazar Stern of the Hatnua party, by a 5-3 vote. Stern was the chief education officer in the Israel Defense Forces and oversaw the expulsion of Jewish settlers from Gush Katif.

IDF officials objected to the plan, saying it would make it more difficult to draft other haredi men and that it will not help integrate the men into Israeli society, according to reports.

Volunteers for Magen David Adom, Zaka and the Israel Police already receive the status of national service, which in some cases can be served in exchange for military service.

Upon the completion of national service, those who served in the military or national service receive an end-of-service grant that can be used for higher education and other specific purposes.

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