Hiddush calls for prevention of peyot-shaving incidents in IDF

Push for standardized notification of right to grow side locks comes after at least two haredi soldiers complained in recent months that IDF barbers had shaved their peyot.

November 2, 2013 22:15
1 minute read.
Haredi man overlooking IDF ceremony

Haredi man, IDF ceremony Tal Law Keshev IDF390. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)


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Religious freedom lobbying group Hiddush called on Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz on Thursday to have notices posted in every army barbershop informing soldiers of their right to insist that their peyot, or side locks, not be shaved off.

Army directives give soldiers the right to grow peyot and beards if they wish to do so in accordance with their religious beliefs.

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Hiddush’s push for standardized notification of this right comes after at least two haredi (ultra- Orthodox) soldiers complained in recent months that IDF barbers had shaved their peyot off while cutting their hair.

Shas MK David Azoulay raised one such incident in the Knesset plenum ten days ago. Ya’alon acknowledged that the incident had occurred, and said that an investigation into the circumstances was underway.

Ya’alon stated that a military barber, while cutting the hair of a haredi soldier who happened to be in military prison, shaved the soldier’s peyot off.

The defense minister said that the barber had not realized that the soldier had distinguishable peyot, although haredi MKs in the hearing said that the soldier had objected and the barber nevertheless continued.

The IDF denied a similar complaint by Shas MK Nissim Ze’ev several months ago, while MK Avraham Michaeli, also of Shas, claimed that a haredi soldier was sent to military prison for refusing to have his beard cut.

“It seems that it is not possible to deal with this issue as one-off isolated incidents,” Hiddush director and Reform Rabbi Uri Regev wrote to Ya’alon and Gantz. “If these incidents are true, and the denials by military officials are false, then it is something of extreme seriousness which relates not only to the violation of orders in a manner which injures the dignity and religious faith of soldiers, but also to the submission of false reports [by IDF officials].”

Regev added that the incidents should compel the army to consider displaying clear military orders regarding haircuts in general and especially for religious soldiers in all IDF barber shops, in order to prevent mistakes and misunderstanding, whether done in good faith or not.

The Hiddush director said that these signs should provide information for directing complaints to the proper channels in the event of such incidents reoccurring.

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