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Shabbat at the JCCA Biennial

April 4, 2014

Every week, Jody Hirsh, the JCC's Judaic Education Director, provides a Judaic message that is featured at the top of the JCC's weekly email newsletter. Below is the Shabbat message for Friday, April 4, 2014.

Shabbat at the JCCA Biennial

Last Shabbat was part of the Association of Jewish Community Centers of North America (JCCA) conference in San Diego. There was a new feature of the conference… Shabbat! Usually, this biennial conference starts on a Sunday, but this year, it started on Friday! Kabbalat Shabbat services and Sabbath morning services were an important part of what went on at the conference.  This year there was a large military presence on Shabbat and throughout the rest of the conference. The JCCA is the outgrowth of what used to be called the “Jewish Welfare Board,” and, in 1917, the Jewish Welfare Board was formed to be a resource and support for Jewish chaplains in the military. On Shabbat was the premier of the new Jewish prayer book for Jews in the military. Rear Admiral Rabbi Harold Robinson, who was awarded the Jewish Military Leadership Award at the conference, and explained what a critical role the chaplains serve in supporting Jewish soldiers, far away from home, often in harm’s way, and in Jewishly lonely postings.

At the final conference event, which was held on the USS Midway, there was a special ceremony – the dedication of a new Torah scroll created especially for the chaplains. It was a tiny portable Torah – 11 inches tall – designed to be packed away for observation of Jewish ritual and study in combat and in the remote locations where Jewish soldiers might find themselves. The dedication ceremony was complete with a military band and color guard (not a standard ritual in the synagogue), as well as the tradition Jewish dedication of Torah scroll in which the scroll is brought into the synagogue with a chuppah. This Torah will be read in far away and close by places ranging from a home base in San Diego, and as far away as in the combat zones of Iraq. The work that our Jewish military does is amazing, and it was a powerful thing that they were present at our conference.

Rear Admiral Rabbi Harold Robinson, USN Ret.

The Portable Torah Scroll presented by the Jewish Community of San Diego

The Torah Dedication Ceremony aboard the USS Midway

The new JWB military siddur (prayerbook)

Shabbat Shalom