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Israel - Ultra-Orthodox Men Bristling Over Shortage of Beard-Friendly Gas Masks

Published on: April 11, 2010 08:09 PM
By:  Haaretz
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FILE - Young ultra orthodox boys learn how to use a gasmask during the days of the Second Intifada. October 30, 2001.FILE - Young ultra orthodox boys learn how to use a gasmask during the days of the Second Intifada. October 30, 2001.

Israel - With the defense establishment running a shortage of special gas masks coveted by the bearded Haredi public, the ultra-Orthodox Shas party is demanding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exercise his influence in order to speed up the supply of the kits.

Israel is suffering from a shortage of the Bardas, a mask that covers the entire head and is meant for older people who are ill and for men with beards. As a result, most Haredi men do not have any protection due to the traditional mask’s incompatibility with beards. The masks are meant to protect from biological or chemical attacks.

This past December, the Israeli government decided to change the previous policy, which required the distribution of gas masks only to citizens living in areas of the country considered to be particularly vulnerable to missile threats, and ordered that protection kits be given to all Israeli citizens.

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The decision left the defense establishment scrambling to complete its supply. Currently, the Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command possesses enough protection kits to cover about 60 percent of the population.

Home Front Command officers and Treasury officials are discussing ways to finance the acquisition of more gas masks from the two companies that manufacture them in Israel. The cost of the additional purchase is estimated at NIS 1.5 billion.

The current supply of gas masks contains a small number of the Bardas model. “Currently, these kits are intended for citizens with health issues,” said Colonel (res.) Yossi Sagiv, the Home Front Command officer responsible for overseeing the supply of kits. “There won’t be any distribution of kits for men with beards in the near future.”

The cost of the Bardas gas mask is nearly twice that of the conventional gas mask.

“The first Gulf War was 20 years ago,” said Be’er Sheva deputy mayor Ofer Kardi (Shas). “How could it be that to this very day none of the relevant officials in the army has said anything about insufficient budgets? It’s been almost 20 years and this issue has not even been raised once. I think that this is a flaw in the defense establishment.”

“We are an integral part of the state of Israel and the public in this country,” he said. “They should’ve taken us into account. We’re not second class citizens. Why is the Home Front waiting until the last minute?”

Kardi said he has urged Shas chairman Eli Yishai, who is also interior minister, to immediately address the issue. The deputy mayor said Netanyahu promised Yishai that he would allocate the appropriate budget toward solving the problem.

Yishai has demanded that Netanyahu accommodate the ultra-Orthodox by arranging for the supply of newer-model gas masks tailored for men with beards. In the past, the Defense Ministry has provided Haredi men with the same masks used for those with disabilities. These masks cover the entire head rather than just the face.


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1

 Apr 11, 2010 at 10:11 PM Meir Says:

Join the army they will give you one.

2

 Apr 12, 2010 at 12:36 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Meir Says:

Join the army they will give you one.

I'm in the army - pikud haoref (homefront defense) with a beard and they have not given me one...

3

 Apr 12, 2010 at 08:20 AM Berl Says:

The masks are a bubbe meiseh, all they do is make you feel good they don't protect, neither do the sealed rooms. I used to use my old mask when I grated the horseradish for the seder.
As for the geniuses who say to join the army, use your sechel, if there is a shortage that means even the army does NOT have them, and if you read the article they are not only used for people with beards, they are used for the elderly with breathing problems, and for people with asthma. I know for a fact that the IDF does not accept the elderly or people with asthma or epilepsy into it's ranks!
All you people who don't even live here and scream about chareidim joining the army seriously need a life. How come you people don't enlist in the US Army? How come you aren't in Afghanistan or Iraq fighting if being in an army is so great????? Or better yet how come you don't make Aliyah and join the IDF? Are the gold paved streets of America too much to leave?

4

 Apr 12, 2010 at 08:32 AM Brother Jew Says:

I served in the IDF, in the Nahal Brigade, and there are two ways someone is allowed to have a beard in the army. Either for health reasons or for religious reasons. In the event that there is intelligence reports that there is an immediate threat of a chemical or biological attack, all soldiers are required to shave even if they are a Chabadsker with a 2 foot long beard.

5

 Apr 12, 2010 at 08:32 AM Anonymous Says:

Purchasing these masks last (or not buying them at all) makes more sense. For the same money the State can get 2X as much regular masks and protect 2X as many people. If the masks cost 2X as much, maybe just maybe, it would make more sense to temporarily shave one's beard in times of crises (which is free) and use a regular mask then expect $100 million for special gas masks.

6

 Apr 12, 2010 at 08:56 AM David Says:

Reply to #3  
Berl Says:

The masks are a bubbe meiseh, all they do is make you feel good they don't protect, neither do the sealed rooms. I used to use my old mask when I grated the horseradish for the seder.
As for the geniuses who say to join the army, use your sechel, if there is a shortage that means even the army does NOT have them, and if you read the article they are not only used for people with beards, they are used for the elderly with breathing problems, and for people with asthma. I know for a fact that the IDF does not accept the elderly or people with asthma or epilepsy into it's ranks!
All you people who don't even live here and scream about chareidim joining the army seriously need a life. How come you people don't enlist in the US Army? How come you aren't in Afghanistan or Iraq fighting if being in an army is so great????? Or better yet how come you don't make Aliyah and join the IDF? Are the gold paved streets of America too much to leave?

1) If the masks don't work, then there shouldn't be a problem with not giving them to the Chareidim.
2) Use your own saichel (if you've got any); the army almost certainly gets priority, so, in the event of a shortage, the available masks will go to the army.
3) I know an individual with asthma who did, in fact, serve in a combat unit in the IDF.
4) The U.S. does not have mandatory conscription like Israel does-- while I personally believe that more Jews should join the US military, there is a big difference between merely not volunteering and making excuses to avoid a civil obligation.
5) Finally, I resent your obnoxious insinuation that Jews in America only stay here because of money. I was born an American, my family has been here for a century, I am committed to the philosophy of government set forth in the US Constitution, I am deeply grateful to America for the freedom and opportunity that my family has been afforded, and, to be blunt, there is no amount of money you could offer me that I would accept in exchange for my American citizenship.

7

 Apr 12, 2010 at 09:25 AM Shua Cohen Says:

Reply to #6  
David Says:

1) If the masks don't work, then there shouldn't be a problem with not giving them to the Chareidim.
2) Use your own saichel (if you've got any); the army almost certainly gets priority, so, in the event of a shortage, the available masks will go to the army.
3) I know an individual with asthma who did, in fact, serve in a combat unit in the IDF.
4) The U.S. does not have mandatory conscription like Israel does-- while I personally believe that more Jews should join the US military, there is a big difference between merely not volunteering and making excuses to avoid a civil obligation.
5) Finally, I resent your obnoxious insinuation that Jews in America only stay here because of money. I was born an American, my family has been here for a century, I am committed to the philosophy of government set forth in the US Constitution, I am deeply grateful to America for the freedom and opportunity that my family has been afforded, and, to be blunt, there is no amount of money you could offer me that I would accept in exchange for my American citizenship.

> "I was born an American...there is no amount of money you could offer me that I would accept in exchange for my American citizenship.”

>> It is clear that you are not an Orthodox Jew of any stripe or persuasion, for all bnai Torah know that we are in golus...we are only temporary visitors in America ...and that we look forward longingly for the day when the final geula arrives and we can return to our REAL home: Eretz Yisrael.

Indeed, those of your persuasion are of the same type who did not follow Moshe Rabbeinu out of Mitzrayim (and perished there). Similarly, you will not follow Eliyahu HaNavi and Moshiach back to your REAL homeland, spouting in protest your "commitment" to your beloved golus-America.

8

 Apr 12, 2010 at 12:55 PM Dr. E Says:

I would suggest that they allow those not in the IDF with beards to pay the cost differential for the larger masks.

9

 Apr 12, 2010 at 01:45 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
David Says:

1) If the masks don't work, then there shouldn't be a problem with not giving them to the Chareidim.
2) Use your own saichel (if you've got any); the army almost certainly gets priority, so, in the event of a shortage, the available masks will go to the army.
3) I know an individual with asthma who did, in fact, serve in a combat unit in the IDF.
4) The U.S. does not have mandatory conscription like Israel does-- while I personally believe that more Jews should join the US military, there is a big difference between merely not volunteering and making excuses to avoid a civil obligation.
5) Finally, I resent your obnoxious insinuation that Jews in America only stay here because of money. I was born an American, my family has been here for a century, I am committed to the philosophy of government set forth in the US Constitution, I am deeply grateful to America for the freedom and opportunity that my family has been afforded, and, to be blunt, there is no amount of money you could offer me that I would accept in exchange for my American citizenship.

just a point of clarification, the army has a different type of mask for soldiers than it does for civilians.

10

 Apr 12, 2010 at 01:50 PM 100021 Says:

I just love all these opinions of "armchair experts"!

11

 Apr 12, 2010 at 03:02 PM murray Says:

Reply to #9  
Anonymous Says:

just a point of clarification, the army has a different type of mask for soldiers than it does for civilians.

Obviously................the army gets maks that can stop Nerve agents . The civilians get masks that can protect against bad odors emanating from the lavatory. As it should be.

12

 Apr 12, 2010 at 05:41 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
Shua Cohen Says:

> "I was born an American...there is no amount of money you could offer me that I would accept in exchange for my American citizenship.”

>> It is clear that you are not an Orthodox Jew of any stripe or persuasion, for all bnai Torah know that we are in golus...we are only temporary visitors in America ...and that we look forward longingly for the day when the final geula arrives and we can return to our REAL home: Eretz Yisrael.

Indeed, those of your persuasion are of the same type who did not follow Moshe Rabbeinu out of Mitzrayim (and perished there). Similarly, you will not follow Eliyahu HaNavi and Moshiach back to your REAL homeland, spouting in protest your "commitment" to your beloved golus-America.

While I agree with your comment that we are in golus, YOU must keep in mind that those living in Israel today are ALSO in golus. You may contend otherwise but that is because you confuse living in golus with living in chutz l'aretz. If despite that, you still contend that those living in EY are no longer in golus, would you please point out to me and all reading exactly who the Moshiach is? If he has arrived I would sure love to know about it.

That being said, your personal attack is utterly uncalled for. Perhaps David understands golus better than you and is expressing the halachic requirement that Jews be loyal to their country of residence (just as you are, I'm sure). Perhaps he is just confused (though clearly no more than you). Regardless, to say he is "not an Orthodox Jew of any stripe or persuasion" is out of bounds. One COULD say the same of you, as any Orthodox Jew would recognize that as lashon hara.

Lastly, your final comment conflates Moshe Rabbeinu with the zionist leadership who created not just a "non-Torah" but an ANTI-Torah state. I am sure that when Moshiach comes, David will follow him, despite refusing to follow atheists Herzl, Weizman, Ben-Gurion, etc.

13

 Apr 12, 2010 at 10:09 PM Robert Says:

Reply to #7  
Shua Cohen Says:

> "I was born an American...there is no amount of money you could offer me that I would accept in exchange for my American citizenship.”

>> It is clear that you are not an Orthodox Jew of any stripe or persuasion, for all bnai Torah know that we are in golus...we are only temporary visitors in America ...and that we look forward longingly for the day when the final geula arrives and we can return to our REAL home: Eretz Yisrael.

Indeed, those of your persuasion are of the same type who did not follow Moshe Rabbeinu out of Mitzrayim (and perished there). Similarly, you will not follow Eliyahu HaNavi and Moshiach back to your REAL homeland, spouting in protest your "commitment" to your beloved golus-America.

you are so smart
Why dont you get up now and go to the land of Israel..

14

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