This memorial day, we are thinking about the role of American Jews in the American armed forces. As Debra Nussbaum Cohen points out in her 2009 article in The Forward, individual cases of Jews serving in the army highlight how few Jews serve in the American military – even relative to the small number of Jews in America. This article from the Jewish Journal highlights the highs and lows of being one of the very few Jewish chaplains in the Marines. Focused on the life and work of Navy Lt. Aaron Kleinman, the article concludes:

He feels confident he’s doing exactly what he’s meant to be doing — providing help and counsel to a “highly motivated group of people who love America and want to give something back.”

“The opportunity to make a kiddush haShem, to sanctify God’s name, is really incredible for those who choose to and who can,” Kleinman said of Jews considering volunteering.

Yet, he admits, serving both Judaism and the U.S. military, being a man of the armed forces and of God — this life of obligation is not the easy road.

“It’s difficult.”

In an effort to strengthen the Jewish community within the U.S. armed forces, the Major Stuart Adam Wolfer Institute provides Jewish and Kosher items and food (sukkahs, menorahs, holiday-themed care packages) to Jewish troops overseas. This memorial day, we ask that you consider supporting an organization that works with Jewish troops, such as MSAWI. You can contribute to MSAWI here.