New Directive to Require Religious Soldiers to Shave

YERUSHALAYIM -

A new directive requiring religious soldiers in the IDF to get multiple levels of permission in order to keep their beards has sent a wave of protest among Rabbis associated with the Hesder yeshivah movement. According to the Kipa news site, dozens of soldiers have complained in recent days that in preparation for the new directives, they attempted to secure the permits required – but have received no response, meaning that they are now liable for sanctions and event time in the brig for failing to comply.

The IDF generally requires soldiers to shave daily and appear at morning countoff clean-shaven – unless they enter the army wearing a beard, in a concession to religious soldiers who prefer not to shave. The long-standing informal arrangement was recently changed, however – and now, in order to keep their beards, soldiers are required to secure permission from their unit commander, division commander, and the IDF Chief Rabbi. The new directive is set to go into effect Wednesday.

In an institution that can be quite bureaucratic at times, securing that permission has been a major hurdle – and apparently hundreds of soldiers have failed to secure all the permissions necessary, said the organization. One unit said that they had been specifically told by their commander that he would not issue the permits because he wanted them to shave, while others said that they had been given all the permits, only to have them rescinded.

The organization is set to meet Sunday in order to discuss ways to counter the new directives, the report said. Among the tactics being weighed is an emergency petition to the High Court demanding an injunction against the directive. The IDF has not responded to a request for comment.