Four rabbinical students and other prospective Navy Jewish chaplains had the opportunity to see Navy life up close when they flew out to the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Harry Truman with JWB Jewish Chaplains Council Director Rabbi Harold Robinson in August. Rabbi Nina Mizrachi from JCC Chicago joined the group, as did JCC Association VP and Community Consultant David Posner and two faculty members, Jewish Theological Seminary Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics Judith Hauptman, and clinical director of the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling at Hebrew Union College, Nancy Weiner.
The group left Norfolk, Virginia in the morning and flew to the carrier sailing off the Florida coast, landing on the deck. After lunch, they toured the ship and had a chance to talk to sailors and officers and watch how crew members launched planes and recovered them. Planes leaving aircraft carriers accelerate to 135 miles an hour within two seconds. “They were in awe of what was happening and overwhelmed with what the sailors do,” said Rabbi Robinson, a retired rear admiral. There are about 40 Jewish service members on the U.S.S. Truman out of a full crew of 5,000.
“There are not enough Jewish chaplains to attend to the spiritual needs of these young men and women,” said Rabbi Mizrahi, who coordinates a program through JCC Chicago and the Chicago Board of Rabbis to provide spiritual services at Great Lakes Navy Recruit Training Center. “Just as they make personal sacrifices for the sake of our country, we need more rabbis to do the same.”
The group conducted morning worship services aboard ship before they flew back to Norfolk the next day. “We hope to do more of this kind of thing with the other branches,” Rabbi Robinson said. “It gives rabbinical students a chance to meet Jews in the military and see them as real people in need of our care.”
“Having highly qualified Jewish chaplains is essential to the spiritual well-being of the estimated 10,00o Jews serving in the military,” said Posner. “It also demonstrates the Jewish community’s commitment to all of our military personnel, since all chaplains minister to any soldier, sailor, Marine or airman or woman. JWB’s role in recruiting and endorsing such chaplains, and being the gold standard in doing so, is something JCC Association is very proud of.”
To see photos of the flyout, go to http://www.facebook.com/JWBJewishChaplainsCouncil