Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Year Greetings to U.S. Jewish Servicemen and Servicewomen Wherever You Are Serving

The Jewish New Year holiday of Rosh Hashanah starts at sundown this year on Monday evening, September 29. It’s a two-day holiday that ends at sundown this year on Wednesday evening, October 1. For those of you who don’t know, this is a solemn religious holiday, although we do have festive meals with family and friends besides attending synagogue services.

(For an explanation of this Jewish holiday and other Jewish holidays, see the book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION by me and Rabbi Karen L. Fox on Amazon at

On Rosh Hashanah Jews all over the world will ponder “who shall live and who shall die … who shall come to a timely end and who shall come to an untimely end.”

Yesterday morning at synagogue services I gave a short drash (talk) about the Jewish servicemen and servicewomen who this year will ponder these questions in Iraq or Afghanistan. I said in part:

And while we will chant this prayer in the comfort of our air conditioned sanctuary in the midst of a country that allows Jews to openly and freely celebrate their religion – there are Jewish servicemen and servicewomen who will chant this same prayer amidst the violence of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some of these deployed Jewish military personnel have traveled from their bases in Iraq to other bases where the too-few Jewish chaplains in Iraq or the Jewish lay leaders will lead Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services. Some Jewish personnel will be on missions that prevent their getting time off for the High Holidays.

In Afghanistan, some Jewish personnel will choose to stay at their own bases, totally unable to attend any Jewish service, because the risk of traveling to the bases where Jewish services are held is too great. The trip could cost their lives and the lives of their escorts.

For those of you who would like to know more about Jews who serve in the military, go to and read the last few compelling posts. And for those of you who would like to support all U.S. military personnel who are serving now – and their families – go to my website for information on several organizations that help military families.

May this coming year be one that brings us closer to peace for all people.

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