Thursday, October 9, 2008

Rosh Hashanah on Camp Victory

"Ashamnu...We have sinned...Bagadnu..." The sounds of the Vidui [confessional] filled the chapel on Yom Kippur. As I recited the Hebrew, CPT Rose stood next to me at the bimah, reciting in English, his words interspersed with my own. Thanks to the many Soldiers and civilians, some of whom had traveled quite a distance to be there on this Holiest of days, we all experienced a deeply meaningful Day of Atonement.

Rosh Hashannah on Camp Victory was also, in the word's of one young private "The best Rosh Hashanah ever!" The High Holidays take so much planning and preparation on my part, that I'm sometimes amazed that I can manage it and still have anything left over to focus on my own tefilot [prayers]. Really, there is no way I could do it all myself. Camp Victory is unique amongst the Jewish military congregations in that there is often a minyan [quorum] on Friday nights, and we had a very large turnout for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. That meant lots of help, which I very much appreciate.

We also had some help from folks back home. They sent food and other items, which helped with the meals in the chapel on Rosh Hashanah and for the break-the-fast after Yom Kippur.

For those Soldiers coming from other FOB's it was usually either Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, since for many of them it was too hard to travel for both Holidays. In addition to teaching some classes between services during the day, I spend time talking to Soldiers individually, often about their personal issues and concerns.

We also had a Sefer Torah, on loan from Lifebridge Health System's Jewish nursing home in Baltimore, Maryland. That makes a huge difference, and someday I hope to acquire a small Sefer Torah to bring on deployments. No matter what their background, every Jew understands that the Torah is central to Jewish values.