IDF urged to allow chametz on army bases during Passover

The letter to the Chief of Staff asks to ensure the supply of kosher food for Passover does not justify a ban on the holding of chametz by secular or non-Jews.

IDF SOLDIERS from the 669 Unit during a training exercise last year. (photo credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)
IDF SOLDIERS from the 669 Unit during a training exercise last year.
(photo credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)
The Secular Forum and the Hiddush Association for Religious Freedom and Equality wrote a letter to the IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi to amend the army's orders to allow chametz into IDF bases during Passover.
Chametz is leavened grain-based food that is not kosher for Passover.
The letter states that "it is clear that preventing the eating and eating of food in IDF camps, whether kosher for Passover or not at all - is a violation of the freedom of choice, freedom of action and freedom of religion of non-observant Jews, whether they are Jews or if they are non-Jewish soldiers or civilians."
Complaints received by the Secular Forum indicate that the harm to soldiers due to the ban on bringing chametz to IDF bases is manifested in various ways, including inspection of personal files, living rooms, closets and private refrigerators, at the end of which any food in the soldiers' possession is thrown in the trash or confiscated.
Soldiers also complain about the confiscation of private and military heating and cooking equipment ahead of the holiday, the lack of nutritious food in sufficient quantities throughout the holiday and the prevention of deliveries of packages from home starting ten days before the holiday.
Hiddush's CEO For Freedom of Religion and Equality, Rabbi Adv. Uri Regev said that "Hiddush sees itself as entitled to promote the values ​​of freedom of religion and equality in the IDF. We are proud of our ability to contribute to strengthening Israel's identity as a Jewish and democratic state, in which democracy is no less important than Judaism."
Last year, the High Court of Justice ruled that hospitals cannot ban patients, visitors and others entering them from bringing in food products that are not kosher for Passover during the Passover holiday.
Dr. Ram Froman, chairman of the Secular Forum, said that following the court's decision,  it was time to address the painful issue of Passover in the IDF. 
"Every year, secular and non-Jewish soldiers suffer from the unreasonable ordinance that forbids them from bringing any food from home to base during Passover, and are humiliated by orders in which their personal belongings are infiltrated and confiscated, and suffer from limited food and extremely low nutritional value," Froman said.
Froman added that "even if the kitchens and dining rooms are kosher for Passover, there is no justification for abusing soldiers and forbidding them to consume food from home outside the dining rooms. The High Court has spoken out about the hospitals and we are convinced that if the army does not meet our demands, the High Court will also speak out against the army."

Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.