The reason why Israeli Hareidi men have beards could be a simple economic consideration. This is just one of the thoughts which pops into my head with Globes report telling me one of the things that I already knew - Gillette razor blades are expensive in Israel.
New immigants often ask their friends and relatives to bring them products from overseas when they visit. My mother used to arrive with her bags laden with consumer products, either unavailable in Israel or prohibitively expensive. Over the course of the years, her bags have become lighter as I have got used to buying local alternatives but razor blades still feature in her packing list.
A quick online shopping survey bears out the findings; Tesco (you have to register, so take my word for it) lists Gilette blades at 3.56 pounds (NIS 29.42) for 4, 6.90 (NIS 57.02) for 8, whilst Netsal lists the same products for NIS 44.99 and NIS 81.99 respectively. I therefore heartily endorse the possibility of controlling prices suggested by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor!
But all is not doom and gloom - apparently the item most purchased in our Supermarkets, makolets and shuks is not milk, not bread, but Coca Cola! The same article reports that The Real Thing is relatively inexpensive here. A comparison at the same two shops, shows that in the UK, a 4 pack of 2 litre bottles goes for 4.99 (NIS 5.14 per litre) whilst in Israel an 8 pack of 1.5 litre bottles costs NIS 45.90 (NIS 3.825 per litre). So Mum won't be bringing me Coke from England!
The UK is not the consumer paradise that is the United States but it still forms my main basis for comparison. There are certainly things which remain cheaper there and my Mother will continue to bring me a package of Single Malt Whisky, Bendick's Bittermints and PG tips together with my razor blades - but that's about all.