Thursday, January 29, 2009

Operation Support Jews in the Military: Raising Awareness, Not Money

In September 1970, before the most important Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, my husband, 2LT Mitchell R. Miller, and I arrived at our permanent duty station of Munich, Germany. Although we were uncomfortable as American Jews to be living in a country that only 25 years before had murdered six million Jews and millions of others, we were happy to have this respite to live in Europe before Mitch would get orders for Vietnam.

When we arrived in Munich, we were warmly welcomed by the Orthodox Jewish chaplain, his wife and children. Even today, as I re-read the letters I sent home, I realize how important the chaplain and his family were to our adjustment at our duty station. And when the chaplain and his family were rotated back to the States, my husband became lay leader of the tiny military Jewish community in Munich as the replacement Jewish chaplain was assigned to Augsburg.

My husband finished serving his ROTC commitment in May 1972, and it wasn't until April 2008 that my novel MRS. LIEUTENANT -- based on my husband's nine weeks at Armor Officers Basic at Ft. Knox, Kentucky -- was published. And at that same time I started this blog.

My immersion since this April in the world of the U.S. military has been significant, including becoming the co-host of the new BlogTalkRadio show Your Military Life. So it's not surprising, having learned that there's a shortage of Jewish military chaplains, that in September this year, as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur approached, I thought about the Jews on scattered military bases through the world who would have no Jewish chaplains to lead services.

Since then I have been trying to connect with people interested in helping with this problem of the shortage of Jewish military chaplains. Then on December 31st I had an epiphany -- I wouldn't wait any longer for others to take action. I would take action myself.

And thus was born the website Operation Support Jews in the Military. My younger daughter Yael built the website, as the company in which she and I partner builds websites for clients. And now I've set off to ask people to spread the word about this site.

I hope you'll share this blog post or the website address with those who you think would be willing to help. And do visit Operation Support Jews in the Military to learn how the American Jewish community can support Jews in the U.S. military.

P.S. For those of you who enjoy small world stories: Mitch's and my exposure to the Orthodox Jewish chaplain and his wife led us to become observant Conservative Jews on our return to the States. And at the ceremony where our daughter Yael graduated an Orthodox high school in Los Angeles, I was seated directly behind the chaplain's sister, whose daughter was in the same graduating high school class. I would not have been sitting there if it were not for that Jewish army chaplain. Such strange paths our lives take.

1 comment:

Lindsey said...

I really enjoyed reading your blog entry regarding supporting Jews in the military. I am Jewish, have strongly supported our military since I was old enough to understand it, and am dating a Jewish Army officer (ironically, from LA!). During college I worked at the Pentagon for the Air Force, after graduation got offered a Director job at a military non-profit, and now work for the Army's program, "Freedom Team Salute," which is the Army's official commendation program to thank Vets, Supporters, Spouses, etc.

Aside from my support of our military, my boyfriend, who will be leaving for his second tour in Iraq next month, use to lead high holiday services in Saddam's palace when he was there in 2003. He was the only Jew that knew enough to lead a service. Both his parents are from Israel and he was brought up fully immersed in the language and culture. I figured I'd share that story since it related to what you wrote about.

Thank you!! Have a wonderful weekend.

Best Regards,
Lindsey Brothers