Mar 5, 2010

A Seder for the Troops

Today's guest blog post is very special. It's from Rabbi Josh Sherwin, who is a chaplain in the Navy. He asked Kar-Ben to donate Haggadahs for him to take to Afghanistan. Of course, we were happy to oblige! (It's like a modern-day Private Joel and the Sewell Mountain Seder!) Thanks, Rabbi Sherwin!

I am currently stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, and am one of only 8 Rabbis serving on active duty with the Navy. In case you did not know, Navy chaplains serve not only the Navy, but also the Coast Guard and the Marine Corps, so of the 8 of us, I believe 4 are with the Navy, 1 with the Coast Guard, and I am one of 3 serving with the Marine Corps. Being that there are only 3 of us with the Marines, I am assigned to the Second Marine Division, but doing double duty as the Rabbi in charge of the Jewish Chapel at the base.

I recently received word that I am being sent to Afghanistan this Passover in support of our deployed Marines in Sailors. While I do not know exactly how many Jews we have currently in Afghanistan, I have been told that I can expect as many as 50 to attend the Seder we will be holding there, and we will have approximately 75 attendees at the Seder taking place at Camp Lejeune. Kar-Ben's assistance will be a great asset to us in ensuring that these men and women get the Seder experience that they deserve.

As you know, I grew up in a Rabbinical family, (my grandfather is Rabbi Kassel Abelson, Rabbi Emeritus of Beth El Synagogue in Minneapolis) but when I decided to follow in the family footsteps I was not sure that I wanted to become a pulpit Rabbi. As I was preparing to enter Rabbinical School at Jewish Theological Seminary, I heard a Rabbi serving as a Navy Chaplain give a Scholar in Residence weekend, and the thing he had to say really intrigued me. I spent two years participating in the Chaplain Candidate Program, a program that allows seminary students to accept a commission as an officer in the military and to intern with Chaplains serving on active duty. I graduated from JTS last May, and entered the Navy in the fall.

I am very thankful for Kar-Ben's support, and I look forward to sending you pictures of our service men and women using your Haggadot.

Josh Sherwin

Check out our follow-up post to see photos of the troops at their seder!

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