Strictly kosher diet, no women and five times the average number of married troops: Welcome to IDF's Netzah Yehuda haredi regiment, where draft dodging was never in the cards
The new rabbi of the IDF's haredi regiment (Netzah Yehuda) Lieutenant Meir Rorbach recently held a routine review of the company canteen service. He found the usual fare of ice creams, soft drinks, and strictly kosher candy but upon discovering a can of Pringles he swiftly removed it – the milk used in the snack does not fulfill the strictly kosher criteria.
Any other IDF canteen would be surprised by the decision, but at the haredi regiment, the likes of which might soon multiply in the IDF if the Plesner Committee outline is approved, they are not taking any chances.
The haredi regiment is composed of men from a wide range of haredi sects: Yeshiva drop-outs, Hesder yeshiva students, religious en who prefer the more 'devout' regiment, followers of the Chabad chasidic sect, religious men making aliyah to enlist and yes, "Average" haredim from Jerusalem and Bnei Brak.
There is a clear set of rules and regulations for these yarmulke wearing soldiers. The staff officers are all men (eight of which are secular) and no immediate contact between the male and female soldiers – including IDF Personnel Directorate Major-General Orna Barbibai who visited the base a few months ago.
The haredi regiment which was founded at the end of 1999 and started out as a small company of 32 troops is now one of the largest regiments in the IDF, with hundreds of combat soldiers and on average has around 100 more soldiers in its ranks than any other regiment.
A soldier in the regiment usually serves for two years and then spends a year completing high school final exams and acquiring a profession for civilian life.
Recruitment by word of mouth
One of the most significant issues when enlisting haredi soldiers is the cost of enlisting each man. Today, a haredi soldier who is married with children is eligible for a monthly stipend worth thousands of shekels and that is before the cost of investing in special kosher certification, the special physical conditions and the need for special functionaries for the haredi regiment is discussed.
When they are discharged and become taxpaying members of Israel's workforce they will most likely balance out the investment.
Naturally the comments are just as hate-filled as they are whenever YNet runs an article (far more frequently) about Haredi draft-dodgers, abusers, criminals, etc.
Nevertheless Babushka is very proud that her son served in this fine unit.