Air Force Compels Frum Jews to Remove Beards and Payos


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iaf.jpgSadly, cadets entering the IDF’s pilot training program are prohibiting from keeping or growing beards and payos, and on day-one of the elite course, they are compelled to remove them in the presence of a base non-commissioned officer.

One might assume the reason is due to operational logistics, to comply perhaps with the sophisticated computerized helmet that fighter pilots are compelled to wear, but during their first year of training, cadets do not event touch training simulators, yet alone real fighter craft. In addition, this would then not apply to cargo plane pilots and other positions not involving the sophisticated combat pilot’s helmet.

Adding to the argument in favor of the beards, there are reserve duty pilots with both beards and payos, and they do not experience difficulties in carrying out the responsibilities of their position as a result of their outwardly chareidi appearance.

The bottom line, it is because the air force wishes to maintain its clean-cut secular image and does not wish to be associated with the “dosim,” the derogatory term used to describe chareidi Jews. While there are a number of kippa sruga (knitted yarmulkes) cadets, they generally do not have payos or beards so it is less likely that they are targeted by the air force’s compulsion to appear the same as a goyish air force.

One cadet who was instructed to shave decided to comply rather than being expelled from the elite program. He admits that at first, he thought it was an operational thing but soon learned this is far from the case. He also pointed out that there are females in the course, questioning how their long hair is not problematic regarding wearing helmets but payos are problematic. They only target the frum cadets – ordering them to remove their beards and payos.

Another cadet about to begin stated as far as he is concerned, the request is tantamount to “removing my Jewish identity,” stating he will not comply, even if expelled from the class.

An air force rabbi points out that in recent years, there is a noticeable increase in the number of Shomer Shabbos cadets entering the program, albeit they remain a small percentage. He added that measures have been taken to better accommodate religious cadets. He also pointed out that outgoing air force commander Major-General Eliezer Shkedy stated he is waiting to see the first chareidi pilot. The rav explained that what is said is one thing and what is happening in actuality is entirely a different matter.

MK (National Union) Uri Ariel, who is affiliated with the Dati Leumi camp, called the news “surprising and difficult to understand,” stressing the demands are not based on operational realities at all, just a desire by the air force to portray a certain image. Ariel adds that the air force response, seeking a “unified look” is ridiculous, condemning a policy discriminating against those who seek to contribute the most to society. “The females in the course appear quite different form the men,” Ariel stated.

Rav Eliezer Melamed, rosh yeshiva of the Har Bracha Hesder Yeshiva expressed his surprise, adding that the army accommodates many needs of frum Jews but in this case, for some reason the air force seems unwilling to permit a Jew to exhibit a Jewish appearance, to look like a Jew should look.

According to a Kol Chai Radio report, IDF Chief Rabbi Brigadier-General Avichai Ronsky attempted to speak with air force officials, but they remain adamant and plan to continue their ‘clean cut’ policy.

The Office of the IDF Spokesperson responded to the report stating that the air force and the pilot program “have maintained a unified appearance for years. There is no trend to remove beards or payos elsewhere in the IDF or even in the air force. Quite the contrary – chareidim are serving in different units and are respected. The issue of the pilot training program will be investigated again by the air force’s commander.”

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)


  1. This article has me in tears. Though I have heard many times of the anti-semitism among fellow Jews, to see such blatantly disgusting exhibition thereof makes me cry.

    I guess they are willing to have pilots with small kippas, but to have them look like Chareidim? No way! That is too Jewish, and is embarrassing to them.

  2. How terrible!!! They should be glad these wonderful men want to join them and protect our Holy Land. Once again I ask – WHERE IS OUR AHAVAS YISROEL? Don’t we have enough enemies?

  3. 1. there is a major problem in the idf (not so much a anti-dati problem, but related to it) that the “good” soldiers are no longer the kibbutznikim, but rather the “dosim”. and the top brass are angry at this change friom kibbutznikim to “dosim”.

    2. the us air force has the same policy regading beards. nat lewin (the son of the reshe rav, for you litvaks) always speaks about how he sued the air force, all the way to the supreme court (and lost!). the us air force / the us mikitary has the right to decide its “uniform standards”.

  4. This is a step(albeit small) in the right direction. Hopefully this will help people realize that although it is country of Jews with an army of Jews, it is not a Jewish country and not a Jewish army. “ain omaysainu oomah elah be’torasa”.
    The Bais Halevi in the beginning of shemos explains that the gzairos of goyim is in a way a blessing in disguise since it prevents assimilation. Halevai we should be zoche to more gzairos (be’loh shoom nezek ve’tzaar le’yehudi) from the memshales zadon to stop the assimilation into the zionist culture.

  5. #4 If there were more shomrei mitvos in the army, they would be more responsive to halacha. However, the scorn you show is returned by those who serve and die, and they resent those who do not. ‘V’ahavta l’racha comocha’ would work wonders for both sides.

  6. Can you please put Israeli Air Force in the title instead of just Air Force,(so I can determine what the story is before clicking on it expecting to see some racism only to discover it’s the usual Zionist nuttiness)?

  7. They want to have it both ways. They dont want the frum oylam not to serve “their” country but they dont want to be accomidating.

    Sometimes I wonder if “goyishe kep” should be changed to “DIB kep.”

  8. Next they will not want anyone with a Bris Kodesh.
    Yet another reason that we should all Daven for Moshiach so that all these small-minded AmiHaAretz will finally understand what its all about.

  9. While the rationale of a unified look may have some vauge military logic, here it is misplaced.
    If the IDF is the poeple’s army then all branchs should reflect Israeli society especially the Jewish majority.
    If there is criticism for charadim for not being more fully a part of the braoder society how does the Pilot training school fulfill this?

  10. On behalf of my fellow Yid, Sammygol (who by the way I do not personally know): The one thing that is most disturbing to me about these blogs are the personal attacks. Sammygol and others have every right, in my opinion, to write what they believe and hold to be true. I believe that we are all here, as Jews, to support one another and teach one another, not to slam one another. Sammygol didn’t deserve the negative words he received. He’s a Jew just like the rest of us, and he, as a Jew, is entitled to make any comment he so chooses to make on this website. My brother has had similar reactions from people on blogs who didn’t agree with his words (which were taken directly from Torah), and instead of responding in kind with Torah argument (which my brother always uses, exclusively), they personally attacked him. He had to finally respond as Sammygol did by stating that he would not engage in that sort of dialogue. Remember: We are all one Jewish people, and if we continue this very sad and hurtful division amongst ourselves, we will find ourselves lost. Moshiach won’t return until we Jews collectively live Torah, and learn to love one another, among other things.

  11. Heh, in yesterday’s thread about life support we went from hugging and complimenting each others elequence, logic and correctness to kicking each other over some irrelevant technical language usage.

    All in one day on one thread!

  12. to #13 cherrybilly…you are not alone…this guy sammygol..he can jointheranks of the other not “kosher” posters, cantor,illini07, sinisent..he jst throws in some”kosher” deyous here and there to fool the oilom…

  13. “to appear the same as a goy”
    Does that mean that all the males in my circle who are without beards and long payos (instead of the halachic paya on the cheekbone)are GOYISH?

  14. Don’t the chilonim always complain that we chareidim don’t serve in the army? How their precious children die for the homeland, while we hide in our yeshivas? So do they want us or not? Obviously, if they insist on no beards, they don’t need us. It just gives them something to shout at us.
    May Hashem take us out of this galus quickly.

  15. after reading comments #7, #13, & to top it off – #19 I literally choked with laughter. & I don’t think it’s necessary to explain why.
    To cherryhillybilly & jent – when you point a finger at someone you actually point 3 at yourselves. To me it appears that you don’t “fargin” sammygol’s popularity here on this site, but by attacking senselessly you’re just making fun of yourselves.
    (Jent I’m quite sure that I’ll get it back from you shortly… as your usual style when anyone criticizes your odd behavior.)

  16. At first when I was reading the article I thought it was the U S Air Force.Only later into the article did I realize to my disappointment that this is zionist Israel. Even when B’nei Torah want to help defend their country ,they are not wanted. And,when they don’t serve,the chareidi are criticized. If they don’t help they are hated and when they do serve,they’re hated and not wanted. For shame,but not surprizing.If B’nei Torah fight for their country,the army would have z’chusim on their side.

  17. Apalling. If it’s be any other country we’d have a contact name to write to complain. Because it’s Israel, we shrug our shoulders and pronounce how anti-frum the IDF is. Write in, do something!

  18. you are very wrong…I work as a fire fighter and there are very big problems with having a beard or long hair, because the mask from the Scott pack’s (breathing air) cannot make a proper seal on one’s face…I can only imagine how integral a steady flow of air is at altitudes above oxygenation…not surprising that a superior would worry about this young mans beard, and the potential danger it could cause him, especially considering he is piloting a multi-million dollar fighter jet.