Report: IDF Brigade Won't Recognize Conservative Soldiers as Religious

Nahal rabbi forbids troops from exercising right to grow beards for religious reasons, Army Radio reports.

The rabbi of the Nahal infantry brigade has refused to recognize soldiers belonging to Israel's Conservative movement as religious Jews, Army Radio reported Wednesday.

The rabbi did this by forbidding the troops from exercising the right to grow beards for religious reasons.

The Conservative, or Masorti, soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces brigade told Army Radio they have been warned that should they grow beards, they would have their furloughs revoked.

The warning follows a new order in the army that took effect in April only permitting soldiers to grow beards for religious or medical reasons.

According to the Conservative soldiers, who enlisted as a group in the brigade's Battalion 50, they were unable to renew their permits for beards before they expired due to an extended period of active service on the northern border.

When they finally submitted a request, Army Radio reported, they were told that they could not be given the permit for religious reasons because the Nahal rabbi did not recognize their stream of Judaism.

"From the army's point of view, there is no such thing as Conservative soldiers," they were told, according to Army Radio.

The IDF Spokesman's Office said in response to the report that the soldiers had chosen to grow the beards without the necessary permits. It added, however, that their requests for new permits would be reconsidered by the commanders of the brigade.