IDF Soldier Jailed for Refusing to Cut Off Beard

YERUSHALAYIM -
Shas MK Avraham Michaeli seen in the Knesset plenum. (FLASH90)
Shas MK Avraham Michaeli seen in the Knesset plenum. (FLASH90)

A chareidi soldier in the IDF has been jailed because he refused to shave off his beard.

Shas MK Avraham Michaeli publicized the case in the Knesset plenum on Tuesday during his turn for a “One Minute Speech,” granted to all 120 members of the newly elected Knesset.

“I have a sad story to tell the Knesset, and thought that I would raise it [through normal parliamentary procedure] as an “urgent query,” but for some reason the Defense Minister has decided that he doesn’t want to come to the Knesset. Apparently, he has no time.

“So I have to present it during my ‘One Minute Speech,’ since I don’t foresee an answer coming from him any time in the near future.

“It’s an astonishing story. Incredible! A chareidi boy who was inducted into the IDF with his beard, who even received express permission from the IDF chief rabbi to keep it, as has been accepted practice…

“But, for some reason, his commander decided that it was not fitting that a soldier should be going around on his base with a beard..

“He demanded that the soldier shave it off. He refused. The commander had him court-martialed, and he was sentenced to seven days in prison.

“After seven days, the soldier was released. The commander again demanded that he remove the beard. Again the soldier refused. Again he was sentenced to seven days detention.

“A week ago, I began making inquiries. I contacted the Defense Minister, the IDF spokesman. I have yet to receive an official answer explaining his treatment.”

At this point, outgoing Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin interjected: “You have to get in touch with the State Comptroller. He should investigate.”

MK Michaeli said he would be happy to do so, but that that would take two months. In the meantime, the soldier sits in prison.

He pointed out that the case was in contrast to all the talk in the Knesset and the media about “sharing the burden” and recruiting chareidim into the army, and the repeated promises that the lifestyle and needs of chareidi soldiers will be respected.