Rabbi Elie Estrin, co-director of the Rohr Chabad Jewish Student Center at the University of Washington in Seattle with his wife, Chaya, became the first bearded chaplain sworn into the U.S. Air Force after the Pentagon relaxed its restrictions on facial hair in the military last year.

Now, Estrin has just completed five weeks of Officer Training School at the Maxwell Air Force base in Montgomery, Ala., during which he observed the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av, where he spent 25 hours fasting and praying.

He received standard kosher MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) there, although a special kosher meal was brought in by Rabbi Yossi Posner, director of Chabad of Alabama in Birmingham, for a mandatory formal dinner.

The 35-year-old rabbi comes to the Air Force with the rank of captain, considering his 11 years of service directing Chabad on campus in Washington. He has said that the road to the armed services was “a logical extension of his existing service to the Jewish community.”

His promotion follows a 2014 directive of the Department of Defense that eased rules on beards and other displays of religious beliefs for military personnel in all branches of the U.S. armed forces.

Chabad.org reported on Estrin last September when he officially became a chaplain in the Air Force, though he could not perform duties until the training course was completed.

“In addition to the tools I’ve gained for my work in the military, the five weeks of intensive leadership training gave me new insight and fresh perspective on my work with students,” said Estrin. “I hope to be able to put that knowledge to immediate use, and bring our teaching and programming to entirely new vistas.”