Friday, October 31, 2008

Army and Air Force Exchange Service Launching Blog to Celebrate the Military Family

In my novel MRS. LIEUTENANT, a telling incident occurs on the steps of the Ft. Knox PX (Post Exchange):
Sharon locates the PX, another one of the wooden frame buildings. At the top of the entrance steps a young black enlisted man in starched fatigues and shiny combat boots walks out of the door, sees them, and holds the door open. Sharon smiles at him as they pass.

They enter the PX and Kim turns to Sharon. "Did you see that? He was looking at us!"

"He was what?"

"Looking at us!" Kim hisses.

"He was just holding the door for us, being polite."

Kim's eyes flash her anger.

"Was the man black who shot the clerk?" Sharon asks.

"He was white. This has nothing to do with that." Kim strides off.

Sharon catches up with Kim in the towel department. Yves Saint Laurent towels in black and brown stripes and in blue and black stripes occupy a table. "These are terrific prices," Sharon says to Kim by way of making up. "The person who ordered these probably doesn't even know that Yves Saint Laurent is a famous designer."

For those of you who have never been in or allied with the U.S Army or the U.S. Air Force, the administration of the PX system is done by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service -- AAFES or called the BX/PX or Exchange. (In the sequel to MRS. LIEUTENANT, Sharon and Robert are stationed in Munich, where the headquarters of the European exchange service is in 1970.)

This coming Monday, November 3rd, AAFES is launching the blog Salute to Your Service. According to blog editor Lauren Vargas, “The AAFES: Salute to Your Service blog is not a "corporate" blog, but a blog where AAFES will be celebrating the military family.”

This is a terrific addition to online military family “conversations.” Go to for an early look at this terrific new blog.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Her Husband Is Among the First Boots on the Ground

Trish Forant of eMailOurMilitary is sponsoring on her blog a series of guest posts about supporting the troops.

I want to share with you the October 28th guest post by Erin Nash, who blogs at and whose husband is "a special operations Soldier and is always among the first boots on the ground wherever needed in the world."

Go on over to to read a soldier's wife's thoughts about supporting our troops.

And, remember, I'm sponsoring an Honor a Veteran event on Facebook at and Trish is sponsoring a holiday program at If you're able, please participate in both projects.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

U.S. Navy Issues Policy Memo on Web 2.0

The blog posted an article today about the Navy issuing a policy memo on Web 2.0. Here’s the blog’s highlights of some of the points:
Do it — safely: “The Department endorses the secure use of Web 2.0 tools to enhance communication, collaboration, and information exchange; streamline processes; and foster productivity improvements. Useof these tools supports Department of Defense (DoD) and DON goals of achieving an interoperable, net-centric environment by improving the warfighter’s effectiveness through seamless access to critical information. Web 2.0 tools are useful in a global enterprise, such as the DON,’ as they enable widely dispersed commands and personnel to more effectively collaborate and share information.”
Why it matters: “The gains in productivity, efficiency, and innovation can be significant. Commands are encouraged to use Web 2.0 tools, consistent with applicable laws, regulations, and policies."
Let’s be careful out there: “While these collaborative tools present many useful opportunities, their application must not compromise data confidentiality and integrity.”

To read the whole blog post, go to

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

To Be or Not to Be: Ernst Lubitsch’s 1942 Film

As some of you may know, I’m working on MRS. LIEUTENANT IN EUROPE, the sequel to MRS. LIEUTENANT. The sequel takes place in Munich, Germany, starting in September 1970 when Sharon and Robert Gold first arrive. A major theme of this second novel is what it’s like as Jews to be part of an occupation force in Germany only 25 years after the end of World War II.

Thus I read with particular interest David Propson’s October 25th Wall Street Journal article “A Bubbly Mix of Zaniness and Doom” about Ernst Lubitsch’s classic 1942 film “To Be or Not to Be.”

Propson’s article apparently was motivated by the less-than-stellar reviews for the current Broadway play based on the film. Propson says:
It would be tragic, however, if audiences mistook this misbegotten production as any reflection of Lubitsch’s sublime comedy. Recreating Lubitsch’s bubbly cocktail of zaniness and doom is a tall order: Even Mel Brooks missed the mark with his 1982 film remake. But the Broadway version travesties Lubitsch’s original, altering characters and even changing the famous ending.

The original movie is a favorite of my husband and mine. (We refused to see the remake.) I don’t want to give too much away except to say that the plot concerns a troupe of Polish Shakespearean actors in Nazi-occupied Germany who impersonate high-ranking Nazis in order to save the Polish underground. Jack Benny is the lead actor of this troupe and he is beyond hilarious.

When my husband and I first saw the film in 1971 or 1972, we and the two other American servicemen with us were the only people laughing in the theater. Where did we see this film? At a Hollywood film festival at the Munich city museum. Why the museum thought that Germans would understand the farcical humor of this film was beyond us. But the four of us couldn’t stop laughing.

If you have the opportunity to see the original film, do so. While it’s very funny, there are serious underpinnings (Lubitsch himself was a Berlin Jew who got out in time). And sometimes the most farcical films can give us food for thought.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

USO Supporting the Troops: Every Wife Dreads ...

I have to admit that the first thought that comes to my mind when I think of the USO is scenes of USO-sponsored dances in World War II films. So I found the email from the USO asking for a donation particularly moving as it included the text of a letter from a wife whose husband was deployed to Iraq:

Every wife dreads the day we have to put our husbands "back on the plane." Yesterday I thought I would be all alone in this huge airport ... that I would be left standing with my six-year old son, crying and watching my husband, yet again, walk away from me.

I was wrong. Your USO volunteers were wonderful.

They took the time to talk to my husband and tell him that they were proud of him ... that they wished him well ... and to come home soon. They also took the time to play with my son, and one lady gave him a stuffed bear which he slept with last night.

And when it came time for my husband to walk away from me, I suddenly found myself surrounded by volunteers. They didn't have to stand there with me and help me through my toughest moment ... but they did. I cannot thank you enough for all that you have done, and all that you do. PLEASE keep up the wonderful work.

After reading this wife's letter, I went to the website at and read this introduction:

The USO is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to support the troops by providing morale, welfare and recreation-type services to our men and women in uniform. The original intent of Congress — and enduring style of USO delivery — is to represent the American people by extending a touch of home to the military.

The USO currently operates more than 130 centers worldwide, including 10 mobile canteens located in the continental United States and overseas. Overseas centers are located in Germany, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Qatar, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Guam, and Kuwait. Service members and their families visit USO centers more than 5.3 million times each year. The USO is the way the American public supports the troops.

There are many ways to support the troops. Those of you who regularly read this blog know that I particularly support Yet it's also important to know about other organizations that support the troops.

In this coming holiday season, support our troops through whichever organizations you choose. Just support them!

UPDATE: Just after I posted the above, I opened today's issue of Daily Variety and saw a full-page USO ad that read:

The morale you raise the most may just be your own. Experience the greatest audience in the world on a USO Celebrity Tour. Call Bernie Rone at 703-908-6480.

I'd forgotten that this is something else the USO does. And if you're a celebrity performer -- here's another way to support the troops.

And, oh yes, the tagline for the USO ad is: Until Every One Comes Home

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Why Support Our Troops? eMailOurMilitary Asks This Question

Trish Forant of eMailOurMilitary in her blog at writes a terrific post explaining why supporting our troops is NOT supporting the war. She reminds us of the other work our troops do (my note: such as patrolling the streets of New Orleans after Katrina hit) and asks that other bloggers answer the question “Why support the troops?”

Here’s my response:

Why do I support the troops? The answer is a direct line from the Vietnam War until today. Let me explain:

Growing up in Elgin, Illinois, in the 50s and 60s I didn’t know many young men serving in the military forces. Of course, most fathers I knew had served in the military during World War II, but that was to be expected.

I clearly remember two boys a few years older than I, sons of my parents’ friends, who were drafted and served in Vietnam. But no one I knew volunteered to serve.

And then I met my to-be future husband at Michigan State University, and he was in ROTC. He had volunteered to be a U.S. army officer.

Because we got married before he went on active duty, I was introduced to the world of the military. And as Jews stationed in Munich, Germany, we particularly appreciated being remembered at holiday time by the Jewish Welfare board. I learned first-hand how important it is to know that there are people who care about military personnel serving their country.

Thus it was natural that, when I was the co-author of the 1992 Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION (written with Rabbi Karen L. Fox), I included in the book a request for donations to the Jewish Welfare Board “in support for our women and men serving abroad.”

It was equally natural that, when my book MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL came out in April of this year, I included on the website ( information about organizations, including eMOM, that help support military personnel and their families. And this is why I frequently write posts about such organizations for my blog.

Recently I was thrilled to participate with eMailOurMilitary and Nancy Sutherland of on Operation Soldier Care, and I’m currently sponsoring the Facebook event Honor a Veteran at Please visit the page to honor a veteran you know or admire.

Having experienced what it’s like to be part of the U.S. military, I feel strongly that all Americans should do their part to both support military personnel today and to honor those veterans who have come before.

I believe that eMailOurMilitary is doing a particularly important service by demonstrating to deployed military personnel that people care. And I’m personally in email contact with a National Guard infantryman in Iraq whose blog is on my blogroll.

November 11th is Veterans Day – may we all remember with gratitude the men and women who have served and are serving our country.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Warriors in Transition: America’s Heroes at Work

This morning I was interviewed on the blogtalkradio show Southwest-Blend’s Champagne Sundays ( Because the Facebook group page MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL is sponsoring the event Honor a Veteran (, we talked about supporting our military troops regardless of our political affiliation.

And then this evening I watched the October 5th episode of Lifetime’s ARMY WIVES. (Yes, I’m a little behind.) In this episode there was a mention of warriors in transition – military personnel who because of injuries have to transition to civilian life.

I did a Google search for the term "warriors in transition" and discovered that there is now the site America’s Heroes at Work (

Supporting the Employment Success of Returning
Service Members with TBI & PTSD

Welcome to America's Heroes at Work -- a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) project that focuses on the employment challenges of returning service members living with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and/or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Designed for employers and the workforce development system, this Web site is your link to information and tools to help returning service members affected by TBI and/or PTSD succeed in the workplace -- particularly service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

And I wanted to bring this site to people’s attention because the site provides help for employers who want to recruit, hire and retain veteran employees.

If you’re an employer, I hope you’ll check out this website. And regardless of whether you’re an employer, I hope you’ll support our troops.

You can check out my website at for organizations that support military personnel and their families, or check out, especially now during its holiday program.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

I'll Be on Southwest-Blend BlogTalkRadio

This Sunday, October 19, on Southwest-Blend's Champagne Sundays Variety Radio Show at I'll be one of the featured authors.

The show is two hours (11 a.m. to 1 p.m. PACIFIC time), and I'm scheduled to call in at 11:15. I'm assuming that I'll be one of the first authors interviewed. We'll be talking about MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL and my Facebook event Honor a Veteran (

If you can't catch the show live, it will be available afterwards. Cheers!

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

World War II Medic John Savery Awarded Bronze Star for Battlefield Surgery

Below as a guest post is what Loretta Savery shared for the Facebook event Honor a Veteran at I found this so moving that I wanted to share it here. (The photo above is of John Savery in front of Notre Dame in Paris in 1945.)

My father John Savery was a newlywed from Queens, New York, when he was drafted right after Pearl Harbor. In basic training, the new recruits were awarded weekends off for excellence on the firing range. My dad was a great shot and was able to get off many weekends to visit his new wife.

In basic training, my dad gave a lot of thought to battle and recognized that he couldn't kill another human being; it went against everything he had been taught and that he believed was a part of his faith. He knew he had a duty to his country, so rather than apply for conscientious objector status -- which he told me he never considered -- he volunteered to be a medic.

My naive young dad believed that both sides would abide by the Geneva Convention and wouldn't shoot at a medic or a Red Cross Medical tent. Instead, he was a sitting duck as the Germans tried to knock off the medical teams so that the American soldiers had no aid. Medics did not carry weapons and had no way to defend themselves.

My sisters and I are very proud of our dad, who served in Patton's Army in the invasion of North Africa, the invasion of Sicily, and battles throughout Italy and France. His battalion was never relieved and sent home; he served in Europe from mid-1942 until the end of the war.

My dad had to amputate a man's leg on the field of battle, with fighting going on around them, to save a man's life. Mind you -- my dad had only a high school education. The surgeon near him said, "you've seen me do it; I'll talk you through it, but the man I'm with needs me and if you don't amputate that soldier's leg -- he'll die". My dad was awarded the Bronze Star for that successful surgery.

My mom's and my dad's ashes are in the columbarium at Arlington National Cemetery, a fitting tribute to a couple who sacrificed a lot for the country they loved.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Army Veterans: Three Generations

The above photo is of my father-in-law Martin Miller on the left during World War II and my husband Mitchell Miller on the right in 1970 when he was training at Ft. Holabird, Maryland, as an intelligence officer during the Vietnam War.

My husband has a WWI poster that England used to encourage Canadian Jews to serve. Here's the poster's wording:




Under the Command of Capt. Freedman
786 St. Lawrence Boulevard

The poster art includes cameos of:
Rt. Hon. Herbert Samuel
Viscount Reading
Rt. Hon. Edwin S. Montagu

And a cartoon figure is saying: You have cut my bonds and set me free -- now let me help you set others free.

My husband’s father’s father Jacob Miller, who had only recently come to America from somewhere in Eastern Europe (and whose last name was probably Menduke or Meduke), went from Philadelphia to Canada to join the British army in WWI before the U.S. entered the war. He was gassed in the war and never really recovered.

I posted the above photo and the above description as part of the Honor a Veteran event being hosted by the Facebook group Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel. Go to to learn about the event and to see a photo of the WWI poster described above.

Share this event with your friends -- let's Honor a Veteran!

P.S. eMailOurMilitary just announced its holiday love program for military personnel -- see

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Honor a Veteran Facebook Event

Honor A Veteran event is being hosted by the Facebook group MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL in recognition of Veterans Day (November 11) -- see

Honor a veteran you know or admire in any of the following ways on the group's Facebook page:

On the wall:
Post a brief description of a veteran

On the photos:
Post a photo of a veteran with a caption

On the video:
Post a video of a veteran

And to thank you for honoring a veteran, five submitters (as chosen by will each receive a signed copy of MRS. LIEUTENANT (, a Mary Kay microdermabrasion set ($55 value) donated by Nancy Sutherland of, and a YourMilitary coffee mug from Nancy Brown of

And to support military personnel today, go to

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Veterans Day Event: I'm Getting Ready to Launch

Veterans Day is in a month on November 11th. In recognition of this day, I'm about to launch a Facebook Veterans Day event that will start this coming week.

I'm hoping that lots of people will participate in this online event. And to encourage participants, I'm rounding up prizes for five participants (to be chosen by In addition to five copies of MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL, I've already got five Mary Kay microdermabrasion sets (each a $55 value) donated by Nancy Sutherland of

If you or anyone you know would like to donate five prizes for this event, let me know now. Leave a comment here or email me through If I know before Sunday morning, I'll add the info in the initial event announcement. Otherwise I'll add the info in subsequent announcements.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Big Tobacco Reports From Iraq on His War of Atonement

I asked Big Tobacco to write a guest post about whether he would be able to attend Jewish New Year services at his FOB (Forward Operating Base) in Iraq. He got inspired and wrote this very compelling response. We agreed that he and I would both put this post on our individual blogs before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

Here is Big Tobacco’s Day of Atonement blog post:

I will not smoke today.

She stands in front of me in the chow line. I see a tattoo on the back of her neck. I lean closer and notice that the tattoo is of a placard written in English and Arabic that sits on the back of the last gun truck in every convoy.

Stay Back 100 Meters
Or You Will Be Shot

I wonder how she is ever going to get a job in the real world with a tattoo like that.

I’m judgmental.

I’m in my barracks room. One of my roommates is a Christian and he spends at least twenty minutes a day in silent prayer. I lie in my bed and look at porn on my laptop while he kneels by his bed to pray. Strangely, I don’t see anything wrong with this arrangement.

I’m disrespectful.

I sit on a bench near the FOB Burger King and smoke a cigar while I finish my Whopper. A female sergeant sits at the far side of the bench. I ask her about her unit patch. She responds. I joke with her, drawing out each intoxicating laugh. When she moves her hand, I see that she is married. This doesn’t dissuade me. I have to keep her laughing, drawing her closer and waiting for the opening that will get me a tent number or a promise from her to see me later.

I’m an adulterer.

I attend “Lunch With The Rabbi” in Kuwait. When I arrive at the chapel, the rabbi hands me a Kosher MRE. I expected brisket or at least a kosher corned beef sandwich. I grimace and put the MRE in my bag. Then the rabbi wants me to study the Torah with him.

“Study?” I say. “Sir, I’ve got the Cliff Notes. I try to follow at least five or six of the Ten Commandments. I’m workin’ my way up, though. I’m gettin’ there, sir. I’m getting there.”

He gives me a pocket prayer book for Jewish soldiers, insisting that it will keep me safe. I toss it in the trash when I leave. Gotta’ travel light. Not enough room in my rucksack for G-d. My situational awareness will keep me safe. My 5 and 25* will keep me safe. A book is just a book.

I don’t make time to study the Torah.

I’m at Camp Attabury, Indiana, for an Army NCO development school. I go out and get drunk every night, but I have trouble getting the attention of girls at the bar because my classmates are far more muscular and better looking than me. I start wearing my yarmulke when I go out to the bars. Now the girls flock to me because I’m different and interesting. The yarmulke is a great ice-breaker and works like a charm.

I use my religion as a punch line instead of as a way of life.

I’m in the chow hall again. Although I turned my nose up at the pork sausage for breakfast, I let the KBR contractors pile on the steak and crab legs. I eat every crab leg on my plate and go back up to the line for more.

I obey G-d’s laws when it suits me to do so.

I’m home. My wife drags me to temple with relatives who are Conservative Jews, a branch of Judaism that just doesn’t know how to have fun. I loath sitting in synagogue listening to people I rarely see read from the Torah and babble in a language I’m barely conversational in. I turn to my wife and say:

“I’ve had enough. I’m going to sleep. Wake me at Aleinu.”

I don’t respect my family.

I’m in the parking lot of Har Zion, a Conservative temple on the Main Line in Philadelphia. Services are over and I sit in my car and light up a cigar. A congregant walks over to me and asks me to respect the Sabbath and put out the cigar.

“Listen, dude,” I say. “It doesn’t exactly look like you walked here.”

His face betrays shock and he leaves me alone. My wife stares at me in horror.

I don’t obey the Sabbath.

It is the last night in Kuwait before we fly to Iraq. A number of soldiers call their families to say goodbye. I decide against calling my wife, even though any number of things could happen to the plane as we fly over a war zone. My wife will cry if I call and this will be a pain in the neck. I don’t feel like dealing with her so I go to sleep instead.

I don’t treat my wife as well as I should.

I don’t know, G-d. I guess the war in Iraq isn’t the only war I’m fighting right now.

But I promise I’ll try to fight harder.

*5 and 25 is a drill that is done [in Iraq] any time a vehicle stops. Too many people were getting blown up from IEDs that were directly under their vehicle. So now when you stop the vehicle, before you get out you open the door and look at the ground below your feet. If it is clear, you get out. Then you scan out to five meters. Once the five meters around the perimeter of the vehicle is clear, you scan out to 25 meters.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

I Need Your Help Finding a High-Ranking U.S. Army Official Who Can Say Yes

Last week I mentioned to a Los Angeles rabbi that there was a shortage of Jewish chaplains in the military today. He replied that the Conservative Movement had required rabbinical graduates to serve as chaplains from the years 1945 to 1970. But then the Vietnam War caused the Conservative Movement to change its policy.

I suggested to this rabbi that rabbis today could volunteer to conduct services for major Jewish holidays on bases that didn’t have Jewish chaplains now. Alternatively, rabbis today could volunteer to conducts services at bases where there are Jewish chaplains and then those chaplains would be available to conduct services in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The rabbi to whom I spoke thought this was a good idea. But he said that it was his understanding that the military wouldn’t allow people not in uniform on bases. So we made an agreement:

If I could find a high-ranking U.S. Army official who would agree that civilian rabbis could conduct services on U.S. bases, this LA rabbi would work on getting rabbis to volunteer for these short stints.

Here’s how you can help:

I’d like to play the six degrees of separation game. This means that I’d like help being directed/introduced to people who might be connected to people who might be able to say yes to this proposal.

As the most solemn day of the Jewish year is in two days, I’d like to feel that I’m really trying to make this project happen. Any help you could give me would be much appreciated.

If you’re not connected with me on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn, email me through my website

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

U.S. Army Has New Program to Combat Sexual Violence

The article “Rate of Sexual Assault in Army Prompts an Effort at Prevention” by Yochi J. Dreazen in the October 3rd Wall Street Journal would have been good news if it wasn’t actually bad news.

The good news is that the Army is launching a new war against sexual violence within the military.

The bad news is that this is a response to new Pentagon data indicating these figures for last year:

Army: 2.6 soldiers per 1,000 reported a sexual assault

Marine Crops and Navy: 1.1 per 1,000 reported a sexual assault

Air Force: 1.6 per 1,000 reported a sexual assault

What’s more bad news is that the Army only began tracking this statistic in 2006! So the Army doesn’t know whether the situation is getting worse.

According to the Journal article:

The service has long focused on dealing with the aftermath of an assault. Now it will try to prevent the crime from occurring in the first place.

As a feminist from way back, I do believe that training is needed to de-sensitize men from looking upon women as sexual objects. Yet to make such training stick, I also believe there have to be consequences for inappropriate language as well as behavior. And the leaders have to model correct language and behavior.

We’ll have to wait until the next time the Army’s assault statistics are reported to learn whether this new program has made any difference.

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Reflections on Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement – in 1970 Germany

In the sequel to MRS. LIEUTENANT – MRS. LIEUTENANT IN EUROPE – when Sharon and Robert are stationed with the U.S. Army in Munich, Sharon is on a German train traveling north from Munich when she reflects on a Yom Kippur experience in Munich:

Once more being on a German train made Sharon think about the German trains that had carried so many Jews to their deaths. For those Jews the answer to their Yom Kippur prayers had not been a long life.

The chaplain had asked Sharon and Robert if an enlisted man and his wife stationed in Oberammergau where there was no Jewish chaplain could stay with Sharon and Robert for the High Holidays. Sharon had said, “If they bring their own sheets.”

Although the couple had not come up to Munich for Rosh Hashanah, they had come up last weekend for Yom Kippur. For the meal before the start of the 25-hour total fast Sharon had only two plastic soup bowls loaned her by their sponsor’s wife. They had used two pots for the additional soup bowls.

The wife, Greta, had been born in Germany after the end of World War II in a DP (Displaced Persons) camp. Her Holocaust-survivor parents spoke German to her as her first language. This stood her in good stead when her husband Paul had to find housing for her “on the economy.” They had rented rooms in the home of an Oberammergau family who did not know they were Jews.

The summer of 1970 had been the every-10-year summer-long Passion Play pageant in Oberammergau. The town had put on this pageant for hundreds of years, and through the years different versions of the story of the crucifixion of Jesus had been used. In recent years the pageant had been charged with anti-Semitism. Thus this past summer surveys had been handed out to attendees to gauge the level of anti-Semitism.

“We had to move out of the family home for the entire time of the pageant,” Greta said. “The family could rent those rooms for much more money.”

“We found rooms in a nearby hunting lodge,” Paul said, “and we returned to our original rented rooms at the end of the summer.”

And that’s when the family offered to show Greta and Paul the surveys. “The surveys said that the Oberammergau Passion Play wasn’t anti-Semitic because it was true. The Jews killed Jesus.” Greta’s hands twisted together when she said this falsehood.

“And that’s why I wore my uniform up here for Yom Kippur services,” Paul said. “The head of the motor pool is a German whose daughter is Greta’s friend. If he had seen me in civilian clothes going to Munich, he would have figured out we were Jews going to Yom Kippur services.”

Greta nodded. “Then his daughter might have stopped speaking to me and I wouldn’t have any friends.”

Now from her seat in the train Sharon can consider this story in its entirety. She realizes that, because Yom Kippur this year had been a Friday night and Saturday, the motor pool German would not have thought it strange for Greta and Paul to be going away for the weekend. And as Rosh Hashanah this year had been a Wednesday night, Thursday and Friday, Greta and Paul probably didn’t come up to Munich because it would have been a giveaway, even with Paul in uniform, to be going up to Munich mid-week the same days as the Jewish New Year.

Sharon glances out the window at the seemingly peaceful German villages as the train rushes past. How terrible for Greta and Paul to feel persecuted in Germany 25 years after the end of WWII.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Jewish New Year in Munich, Germany, in September 1970

I’m working on a sequel to MRS. LIEUTENANT – MRS. LIEUTENANT IN EUROPE – when Sharon and Robert are stationed with the U.S. Army in Munich, Germany. In honor of Rosh Hashanah, the two-day Jewish New Year that has just ended, I’m posting this description from my work-in-progress about Sharon and Robert’s first Rosh Hashanah in Germany in September 1970 soon after they get to Munich.

Sharon doesn’t know Nina well enough to trust saying anything negative to her about this briefing. Although Nina’s husband was probably ROTC, he may decide to make the army a career. As Sharon has learned from her time at Ft. Knox, Southerners have strong opinions about serving in the military.

“Do you want to go downtown shopping tomorrow?” Nina asks Sharon as they head back in the car.

“Thanks for asking,” Sharon says, “but I can’t go tomorrow. Another time would be great.”

“Are you expecting a shipment of goods tomorrow?”

Sharon shakes her head, trying to figure out what to say.

Finally she says, “Tonight is the two-day Jewish New Year -- Rosh Hashanah – starts. I’ll be at services tomorrow.”

Nina nods. “Won’t it feel strange to worship in a country that brutally murdered six million Jews?”

Sharon is surprised that Nina knows this. And, although Nina is driving, she must have caught a glimpse of Sharon’s surprised expression.

“Oh, yes, I know about the Nazis’ Final Solution. Gerald has a Ph.D. in modern European history.”

“I kind of feel good about celebrating the holiday here in Germany.” Sharon says. “Hitler’s gone and tonight there will be Jews in Germany praying.”

Sharon doesn’t add that she is looking forward to the special aura of the High Holidays – of being temporarily removed from military life and worrying about Vietnam tours and Soviet nuclear bombs.

Together on Rosh Hashanah the congregation will recite prayers asking to be inscribed in the Book of Life for the coming year. And 10 days from now, when they confess their sins as a community on Yom Kippur -- the Day of Atonement -- and ask to be sealed in the Book of Life for the coming year, Sharon will pray fervently that this will be true for Robert for this year and for many, many more years to come.

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