The German parliament on Thursday rubber-stamped the law reinstating the official position of the military rabbi in the first extension of the law on military animal care since 1957.
Military rabbis were part of the German armed forces during World War I, when about 100,000 Jewish soldiers fought for the country. They were banned shortly after Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, as part of an initial initiative to remove Jews from civilian life.
According to the Ministry of Defense, the role of rabbis will portray Catholic and Protestant chaplains. They will provide priestly care to the soldiers and accompany them on foreign missions.
The new military rabbis will work as temporary military contractors for six years, but their position could be permanent in the future, the ministry said. Similar initiatives are being discussed to introduce military imams.
The law would also establish a special federal military regiment in Berlin, overseeing branches in Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt and Leipzig. Initially, 10 rabbis will report to the federal chief, the ministry said.
Germany does not officially record the religious affiliations of its troops. According to official estimates based on volunteer disclosures, about 300 Jewish soldiers and 3,000 Muslims are currently serving in the German army. There are 53,000 Protestants and 41,000 Roman Catholics, who together account for half of all service members.