Haredim at gas mask distribution centers: ‘State abandoning us’

Many haredim arriving at gas mask distribution centers told must shave beards to wear mask; informed that active masks with air pumps not distributed to people with beards due to high cost. 'It's a crime, abandonment of entire population,' says a yeshiva student. 'During war I will not remove my beard under any circumstances,' adds another

Concerns regarding developments on the northern front have been increasing pressure on Israel’s post offices, which distribute gas mask kits. Crowds have been hitting the distribution stations – including many haredim, who are told that they cannot receive ABC masks which are suited for people with beards.


On Magen Ha-Alef Street, in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Shmuel Hanavi, there is a lot of traffic. Today is the women’s turn, by order of the rabbis and the ads at the entrance – but men also join the lengthening line. Still, there is an atmosphere of war. "If there is immediate danger, I will shave the beard," said Yehiel, "But the hesitation is when we are not endangered. It is a crime and abandonment of an entire population.”


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Among the haredi community, anger is high, and Ynet received complaints regarding the direction given by distributors to shave their beards during a state of war, after it was decided that masks with air pumps, which fit men with beards, will be distributed only to those with medical problems, as was decided two years ago. “Soon we will see many more haredim with asthma,’ one laughed, as he waited in line at the distribution center.


'If I shave my beard, I am lost '

Avraham said that he does not plan to shave his beard, at this point, "If I take off the beard, I am lost. I do not get into other people's omissions, and I do not pretend to judge other people." According to Avraham, not everyone will remain with their beards, “Everyone will act at their own discretion.”


So why take a mask?

"The fact that there is a mask is just part of making an effort," he explained. "What needs to happen will happen.”

 (Photo: Eli Mandelbaum)

Gas mask distribution line (Photo: Eli Mandelbaum)


Another yeshiva student, Aaron, declared, "In a time of war, I will not shave my beard under any circumstances." He said he would prefer to keep the beard and wear a mask, but if that is not possible, he is not worried. “God watches over us. When the hour of danger arrives, I will ask a rabbi and only if he allows it, I will shave my beard.”


MK Yisrael Eichler (United Torah Judaism) told Ynet that the government is abandoning those with beards. "The persistent refusal to produce a gas masks suitable for the bearded is further proof that the government does not tolerate a Jew with a beard," he said. According to him, he, together with other MKs, approached the Treasury, but they refused to provide budget for the masks with air pumps.


The IDF Spokesperson said in response, "The active kits are designed first those with medical issues who meet the criteria, and adults over the age of 73 who cannot be protected otherwise. Today, with the high cost of these kits, they are not distributed to the bearded."



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פרסום ראשון: 08.28.13, 17:27
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