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Jun 17, 2013

IDF setting to cut kashrut inspectors

It seems strange that the Finance Ministry would be cutting the budget of the IDF Rabbinate by such a significant amount at the same time they are working towards drafting more religious and haredi soldiers who will need even more services by the Rabbinate rather than less.

The Finance Ministry is cutting the budget of the IDF Rabbinate by 25%. According to the IDF Rabbinate, because of the budget cut, they will be forced to stop having non-commissioned officers posted as kashrut inspectors. They say that they will no longer be able to guarantee that the food given to soldiers will be kosher.

From Ynetnews:
As the defense establishment is busy making large cuts to the defense budget to comply with the austerity measures imposed by Finance Minister Yair Lapid, it is one rather small cut that may prove the most politically incendiary: the 25% cut to budget of the IDF Rabbinate that may force the religious authority to withdraw many non-commissioned officers from their posts as kashrut inspectors, meaning it will no longer be able to guarantee the provisions handed out to the soldiers are kosher.
Sources at the Rabbinate told Yedioth Ahronoth this could mean religious soldiers would refuse to enter the army canteens; some went as far as suggesting hunger strikes are in the cards.

Others said the combat units, in isolation from the big bases, will be the worst hit, as their less-than-rigid kashrut standards will further deteriorate, brewing discontent.
In units positioned in the Gaza vicinity area, the West Bank and the northern border, the visits of the kashrut inspectors are irregular, and the army puts its trust in the integrity of the kitchen workers and the soldiers. The kitchens are used to store and prepare both dairy and meat products, which makes the procedures involved in keeping kashrut more complicated.
Additionally, it often happens that secular soldiers are tasked with kitchen duty, which leads to errors in protocol. "The starting point in those kitchens is not great as things stand," the source told Yedioth Ahronoth. "And removal of kashrut inspectors will lead to the effective banishment of the religious soldiers from the kitchens."
"Ben Gurion set two key conditions to the integration of religious soldiers within the military: observance of Shabat and kashrut. Should the measure be implemented, it will drive the religious soldiers away from the combat units."
Sources within the top ranks say IDF are wary of the political implications of the decision, yet acquiesce there is no alternative as even the most sensitive operational functionalities are being hit by the cuts. "Fewer inspectors will have to do more work," the source said.
The IDF's Spokesperson's Unit responded to the reports saying "The IDF is preparing to switch toward functioning within the limits of the current budget, and various proposals for streamlining are being weighed. The proposals are being examined and no decision has been made yet."
I guess how the IDF chooses to make their unit more efficient - what services to cut back on - is up to them.. but a 25% budget cut is so significant that no matter how they decide to best make the unit more efficient it is going to be damaging to the soldiers at just the point when more soldiers who need those services are going to be increasing. At least they will know which burekas are pareve and which are dairy, as they wont have enough kashrut inspectors to tell them!

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  1. They won't be removing people from making sure the food is Kosher. This is just politics, and a threat for budgets. They always threatent whatever will make the most headlines and shock the public the most.

  2. Please be accurate. The finance ministry is not cutting the budget of the IDF Rabbinate (I can't believe I'm defending Yair Lapid) but rather the IDF is. The IDF in recent years received a major boost of its budget and now that it is being asked to roll some of it back, it's making some cheap political cuts in order to get publicity. Let's think of more goofy ideas to draw support against the budget cuts. Coming soon: cutbacks in the hundreds of soldiers it sends to Auschwitz, reducing benefits for wounded soldiers and their families like hours at the Beit Halochem swimming pools, support for the athlete soldiers, etc...

  3. Seems to me a win/win. If the army is short on mashgichei kashrut, and they need to find jobs for thousands of incoming yeshiva bochrim, why not make use of their yeshiva background and place them in a job they will feel good about filling. If they can be involved in ensuring that the Israeli army rations are kosher, they will have a great opportunity to be mezake et harabim.


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