In a joint, first-time initiative of the IDF Chief Rabbinate and the Union of Hesder Yeshivot, hundreds of army soldiers currently studying in yeshivot have been recruited to make army kitchens Kosher for Passover and to run Seder meals.
"Hesder" is an arrangement whereby yeshiva students enlist in the army for five years - part of which they spend in the army and the other part studying in yeshiva.
The hesder students, together with soldiers of the Chief Rabbinate, spent the days before the Passover holiday cleaning army base kitchens - no easy feat - and making them suitable for Passover use. Passover cooking must pass extra strict standards, as any form of leaven (yeast) is forbidden for consumption during the holiday; wheat products are permitted only if they have been certified Kosher for Passover. In addition, many legume products are not to be eaten on Passover, according to Ashkenazic tradition; but as Sephardic tradition does not forbid these foods, neither do most army kitchens.
The hesder students will also take part in running traditional liturgical Passover Seders in various bases. This requires a thorough knowledge of Jewish tradition and law, and to this end, the students took part in a week of special training at the hands of Chief Rabbinate officers. The studies included themes and concepts of Passover, common questions that can be expected to arise, and Halakhic [Jewish legal] issues having to do with the Seder - such as required amounts of matzah, maror and wine; recital and explanation of the story of the Exodus; washing of hands; reclining; and the like.
A senior IDF chaplain of the rank of Lt.-Col. told Arutz-7, "The boys did a great job koshering the kitchens; they are yeshiva students who care about kashrut, and it showed in the work they did. In addition, they saved a lot of money for the army, which otherwise would have had to call up hundreds of reserve-units soldiers for the purpose."
The Deputy Director of the Hesder Yeshivot Union, Eliezer Deutsch, was pleased with the cooperation with the Army Rabbinate. He praised the boys "who are running the Seders instead of being with their families... We recognize the importance of having Seders with meaningful Jewish content for the soldiers serving in the IDF. We see it as both a privilege and an obligation to serve the soldiers who continue to man their posts even on the Seder night while the rest of the country gathers in their homes to celebrate the holiday."