The IDF Rabbinate has given notice that it will not provide a hechsher for a team of cooks competing in Russia’s Army Games because the army said they will be going without a mashgiach, Arutz Sheva reported on Thursday.
Col. Haggai Valosky, Head of the Military Rabbinate’s Kashrut and Halacha Department, sent an email stating the rabbinate’s position:
“At the end of July, an IDF delegation is to participate in the ‘Army Games’ cooking competition in Russia. More than a month ago, we contributed to preparations for the trip. We conveyed the principles of the Rabbinate, the most important of which are kosher food, one permanent station [for food and utensils], and new utensils. In the many discussions we held, we emphasized another point: the need to include a kosher supervisor from our own ranks who will oversee the process of making items kosher, the purchase of food, as well as the cooking and baking processes.
“For reasons that are unclear, they are not allowing the inclusion of a kashrut supervisor in the delegation, and the IDF Attache in Russia is instead providing a kashrut supervisor from the local community.”
“There is no need to elaborate on the need for an experienced professional for such a large project. I don’t know what kind of experience the [Russian] supervisor has, and therefore we are withdrawing our support from the delegation.”
The IDF Spokesperson said in response that there is no technical requirement to send a mashgiach with the team, and that the local supervisor will be able to handle the responsibility.
The “delegation of 10 IDF representatives is defined by the army as a “small mission” because it counts less than 20 participants, and therefore does not [technically] have to be accompanied by an [army] kashrut supervisor. For the benefit of the delegation, a kashrut supervisor from the local community who is aware of army rules and regulations was appointed,” the Spokesperson said.