Earlier this week, a Boston-born Israeli soldier went to an army training session equipped with a pork sandwich that nearly landed him in military jail.
The soldier is from a secular American-Jewish family and currently lives on a kibbutz with his grandmother, who prepared the sandwich for his lunch. When lunchtime came around, the soldier unwrapped the sandwich and began offering bites to his training mates, which caused their superiors to start questioning the sandwiches’ ingredients. According to the Associated Press, the soldier did not know about the IDF’s “strict dietary regulations,” that it’s a military offense to bring non-kosher food into the army’s bases and kitchens.
When it was discovered that the trayf sandwich violated these rules, the soldier was not only sentenced to 11 days in military prison, but was to be dropped from the training program entirely. A spokesperson for the IDF told Israeli radio that the sentence was necessarily harsh because “his actions were unbecoming for a soldier currently in commander’s training school.”
But when the soldier’s family heard the news they began to rally against the decision. His mother wrote on Facebook in disbelief “that in Israel in 2015 my boy, who chose to return to Israel to volunteer for combat service, will be sent to military jail because he ate a non-kosher sausage.”
According to the New York Times, the army decided to reduce the soldier’s sentence to an 11-day stint confined to the base “after relatives talked to the media and a lawmaker wrote to the defense minister about the case.” However, yesterday the IDF had another change of heart and decided to scrap the punishment entirely, admitting that the severity of the initial sentence was an error of judgement. Gen. Motti Almoz posted the following onto:
We were wrong. The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) will continue to keep kosher on one hand, but will not probe a soldier’s sandwich on the other. There are tensions in Israeli society and there are different stances and opinions. There is room for everyone in the IDF.
Jas Chana is a former intern at Tablet.