After an over-50-year ban on milchig foods being cooked in army kitchens, the IDF is taking steps to repeal the ban established by Rabbi Shlomo Goren when he served as the Chief Rabbi of the Military Rabbinate of the IDF (from 1948-1968).
Since the ban, no milchig foods have been cooked in IDF kitchens due to the impossibility of being properly mashgiach on the separation of milchig and fleishig in all army kitchens. Only fleishig food is cooked in IDF kitchens and milchig food is served cold.
According to an Artuz Sheva report, the IDF’s Technological and Logistics Directorate is pushing for the change.
The report added that the change is a cause of great concern to military Rabbanim. “From the viewpoint of the military Rabbanim on the ground, this is a catastrophe,” sources in the Military Rabbinate told Arutz Sheva. “The Chief Military Rabbi was never mashgiach on a military kitchen and neither has his assistant. The matter wasn’t discussed at all among the general staff of the Military Rabbinate or in the kashrus supervision department.”
“This will lead to numerous kashrus glitches. It would be expected that even if such a move is carried out, the IDF would have enough mashgichim but there are no mashgichim. Currently, there are only half the amount of the mashgichim that would be required.”
HaRav Aviad Gadot, who served in the Military Rabbinate, told Arutz Sheva: “The status of the Chief Military Rabbi is so weak in the face of the current reforms against religion that officers don’t consider him at all regarding fundamental religious issues such as the kashrus of kitchens. The matter requires a thorough cheshbon nefesh in the Chief Military Rabbi’s office, which has become a rubber stamp for difficult issues regarding mixed-gender service, military burial, and more.”
On Monday, HaRav Elyakim Levanon, Rav of the Shomron Regional Council and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Elon Moreh, instructed his talmidim that they cannot eat from IDF kitchens if the dairy cooking initiative is launched.
“It was recently reported that the Military Rabbinate will soon approve the entry of dairy cooking in IDF kitchens,” Rav Levanon wrote. “We are closely familiar with the conduct in military kitchens and know with certainty that this change will compound kashrus problems and chalilah, lead to being machshil religious and traditional soldiers.
“If diary cooking is introduced in military kitchens, you cannot eat the cooked food. Our soldiers are called to demand Mehadrin portions, field rations, or uncooked food.”
Following Arutz Sheva‘s report on the introduction of dairy cooking in the IDF, Chief Military Rabbi Brigadier-General Rabbi Eyal Karim announced that he opposes any unilateral move and will not agree to any plan for the introduction of dairy cooking unless it was formulated by the Military Rabbinate.
Rabbi Karim later wrote to the military Rabbanim that any plan that does not meet the kashrus standards of the Military Rabbinate will not be approved. “I would like to clarify: No one has granted permission at any stage for dairy cooking in IDF kitchens. Everything said on the subject in various reports is (as usual) a deliberate misrepresentation by interested parties based on a misunderstanding. We have one goal – to maintain the kashrus in the IDF. This is our responsibility and our jurisdiction according to the law and IDF regulations, and that’s what we’ll do. I have clarified this at every possible level in the IDF.”
“In practice, the team headed by the head of the department will evaluate the various issues at hand and will examine all the proposed changes and their compliance with our kashrus standards. Whatever fails to meet the kashrus standards of the Military Rabbinate will not be approved.”
An IDF statement said: “The IDF is considering changes in order to improve its food service to all personnel, including the establishment of dairy cooking in various units.”
“At this stage, a decision has not yet been made regarding dairy cooking in the IDF. We emphasize that changes will be approved in accordance with compliance with all kashrus procedures and will be examined according to the requirements to be determined by the Military Rabbinate, which is the exclusive authority regarding the kashrus of food in the IDF.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)