Why One Israeli Soldier Paid the Price for Going 'Whole Hog'

One soldier who recently moved to Israel to volunteer for military service in the IDF’s commander training course was shocked to find himself threatened with jail after returning with tasty items from his sweet grandmother.

by Alex Swerdloff
Jun 8 2015, 10:05pm

Photo via Flickr userOpacity

Just like any totally secular Jew living in America, nothing gives me more pleasure than a little Jewish humor. Hell, I even got into film school thanks to the oh-so-genius short I made in high school about a ragtag group of Hasidic rappers, "The Oy Boyz." Suck it, higher education.

So you can imagine my shock and excitement when I heard about a recent news story that started like this: "So, there was this Israeli soldier who was eating some pig and..."

It turned out to be about a scandal that could give new meaning to the phrase "Don't ask, don't tell."

Here's what happened. Last Monday, news began to circulate as Carmela Menashe, an Israeli-based veteran military affairs reporter, broke the story of the possible jailing of Ohad Levy-Or, relating to—what else—a pork-laden sandwich.

Apparently, Israeli Defense Forces officials took offense to the Boston native porking up the joint and violating kashrut regulations, which prohibit the consumption of non-kosher food on military property.

In other words, no pork on base.

Levy-Or, who recently moved to Israel to volunteer for military service in the IDF's commander training course, was shocked to find himself threatened with jail last Monday after returning from his grandmother's kibbutz: She's the one who gave him the offending non-kosher sausage. Apparently, like every Jewish grandmother in history, she couldn't manage to let her bubbeleh leave without sending him off with a little nosh, lest he get a tad peckish.

The military caught Levy with the sandwich and put the clamps on.

After a kerfuffle in the media, an IDF spokesman, Brigadier General Moti Almoz, took to Facebook and said the following: "Bottom line: we were wrong."

Not something one hears from the military—any military—very often.

Almoz continued, "The IDF will continue to keep kosher [on the one hand], but not [be] on the search for a soldier's sandwich, on the other. There are tensions in Israeli society and attitudes and different opinions. In Israel, there is a place for everyone."

Incidentally, it seems that not all parties are satisfied with chalking it up to a misunderstanding and a slap on the wrist. "Certainly it should be prohibited to bring pork into an IDF facility!" stated the former IDF spokesperson and Minister of Culture, Miri Regev.

She went on to poignantly pontificate about the dangers of pork consumption while in uniform during a recent broadcast of Kol Berama Radio. "Yes, he should be punished, and the punishment should not be cancelled... If one wishes to eat pork, one may at home, but not in the IDF," stated Regev.

Regardless of your own dietary restrictions or your opinions on God's "Chosen," we can agree there's always a time and a place for pork.