Israel Defense Force (IDF)

Israeli Military Set for Mammoth Task of Prepping for Passover

Despite its many round-the-clock security missions, the Israel Defense Forces believes that bringing the holiday spirit to its personnel is an imperative.

As Passover approaches, those serving in combat and combat-support roles in the military — as well as a brigade rabbi — told JNS about how they celebrate while in military service.

Sgt. Shir Zandberg, an Operations Sergeant in the Binyamin Brigade Ops and Observations Room, moved to Israel from Brussels, Belgium, six years ago — and today resides in the settlement of Eli, in southern Samaria.

“I am protecting my own sector,” she said, in reference to the fact that the Binyamin Brigade defends her home community. “This has advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that I know the area well; I live here. But suddenly, I am also aware of what is going on, which raises concerns,” Zandberg said.

On routine days, Zandberg works the phones and computers, acting as a bridge between those reporting incidents on the ground and the military forces that respond to them. “I put together the full picture from all of the data, whether it comes from civilians or the military,” she said.

Zandberg’s routine of 12-hour shifts will be briefly interrupted this Passover, when she will spend a week at home and celebrate the seder meal with her family. She is scheduled to be back at base during Chol Hamoed, the intermediate holiday days.

The security-threat level changes from one holiday to the next, according to Zandberg. “Before every holiday, we prepare for what will happen, in line with the latest security evaluations,” she said.

Last year, she attended the Passover Seder (there is only one in Israel, held on the first night) at the base — it was the first time that she did not celebrate Passover at home. “The brigade rabbi really tried to bring the spirit of the holiday to the base, so that everyone would feel it,” she said. “Also, the base, which is located in a community, lets civilians in, and they bring matzah for soldiers. That really connects us to the holiday.”

Last year, dozens of soldiers and officers who remained on base sat at tables as the rabbi read from the Hagadah.

Celebrating Passover in the military is an experience that Maj. Assaf Diler, Deputy Commander of the Ram Battalion — which operates under the Binyamin Brigade’s command — said feels like an expanded family celebration. Diler, a father of three, is the deputy commander of a battalion that conducts daily security missions in the territories.

Diler noted that “we are now in the final approach before the Passover holiday. Some soldiers are excited because they are going home, and some are a little more excited because they will be celebrating on base.”

Read More: Algeminer