Saturday, April 4, 2015

Mima'amakim - out of depths

There has been a dock-worker's strike in California that has slowed mail and food deliveries to Okinawa. (This is a statement, not a judgment.)
I feared that the Kosher for Passover food would not arrive in time. 
From the depths of fear for my community that we would not be able to celebrate Pesach Seder "down to the last detail," I cried out for help from communities and friends.
I am overwhelmed by the responses I received. I tear up as I write this.

Over 14 boxes of Kosher for Passover food and supplies arrived on island before the Chag (holiday).

Horseradish, Matzah, candy, cake mixes, Seder plates, cookies, gefilte fish, bag-of-plagues, plague masks, more flavors of macaroons than I knew existed, Matzah covers ....

And they came from all over the US

We received so much, that we were able to send some of our supplies for a Jewish lay leader aboard the USS Green Bay.

The words, "thank you" can not convey the depth of the appreciation from the Jewish community of Okinawa.

You sent us a piece of home. It is easy to forget when you feel so isolated in this part of the world.

You remind us of what it means that Kol Yisrael Areylim Zeh La Zeh - all of Israel is responsible for each other.

From the bottom of my Neshama and on behalf of the Jewish community of Okinawa, thank you. 

Another First

There are many things I never thought I would do as a rabbi out in Okinawa.

We had the first bris on Okinawa!

Rex Danger (Shimon David) was circumcised and named on Thursday morning, 24 hours before Pesach.

We flew down the Jewish lay leader from Yokosuka, the only Jewish doctor available to perform the Brit.

Surrounded by loving parents and a loving community, we blessed him and welcomed him home.

Mazal Tov, Maddie and Jason!

The 1%

I went back to the States for the first time since I left in 2013.

It was awkward and it took me time to adjust.

While there, I saw something that caught my eye, reminding me that the civilians in the US have not forgotten about us.

It was small and a little silly but it meant something to me.

(I know - it's the Army but they didn't have any Sailors or Marines on the shelf.)

Purim 2015

I love when the Je
I especially love when Jewish tradition blends with the local culture.

This year, we did not use graggers to drown out Haman's name, we used Eisa drums and locally made noise makers.

Eisa Sata? (are you ready?)
Ah iyah! (we are ready!)

USO Service Salute to Volunteers

I was honored again this year to give the invocation for the Service Salute.

07 FEB 15
Let us pray.

Source of all blessings,

We thank you for this opportunity to publicly celebrate service members who went above and beyond in support their fellow comrades and communities.

You put within us the capacity to accomplish great things.
These honorees took that to heart - turning what could have been insignificant moments into sacred ones.

They fed and sheltered other service members, cared for them simply by being present, whether it was making pancakes, or welcoming new Marines and Sailors to the island.

And just as You support us, so too are we grateful for the unending devotion of the USO staff. Their leadership, time and guidance for service members are nothing short of miraculous. They are the cornerstones upon which successful volunteers stand.

God, we ask That you Watch over the USO, its staff, Volunteers, Supporters and local Partners. We pray That you Give Them Enduring strength to Continue to travel down the sacred path of Making every Moment service members Are away from home, count.

May we continue to be blessed with Your continued presence and love through those who serve You.


Robin Miller, USO Director and myself after the ceremony.


Developing Professionally

I started a CPE (clinicl pastoral education) program while
We, as a cohort of 4 plus our instructor, have been learning to take off our armor in order to walk with someone through their own personal hell. 

Before we can walk with someone, we must evaluate our own journeys.

The cohort, missing a few and with a few other fresh faces, spent 3 days at Iejima (formerly Ie Shima) island, studying the ASSIST program. ASSIST is designed to educate and train junior Marines in the case where a fellow Marine tells them that they want to commit suicide. Rather than just run to the chaplain or run it up their chain of command, they learn how to actively listen and not panic.

The same applies to chaplains.

In order to help process what we were studying and what we were sharing, the group of us decided to hike up Mount Gushku.

And as a bonus, we got to see the cherry blossoms blooming.

Kim Reid and I at the top of Mount Gushku.

Saying Goodbye to H&S BN

It is a part of military life that people are constantly entering and leaving our lives. We become close, build strong ties, only for one of us to leave.

Sometimes, we simply change jobs but remain on the same base.

I have had the honor and privilege of serving as the H & S BN chaplain for about 15 months to 1600 Marines, Sailors, their families and the civilians who work alongside me on 9 installations.

This Friday, I change jobs from BN to Building 1, home of the Command Chaplain and his staff.

This too is not permanent. Just as you have seen in the movies, it is below my pay grade to know where I will be assigned after Building 1.

Semper Gumby - always flexible.