Thursday, April 17, 2014

Passover Okinawa Style

Monday night, the community gathered for a communal seder. 75 people participated. Even my CO and command chaplain were there. 

The next night, I hosted a second seder, because I wanted to ask my questions.
In honor of being in Okinawa, we sat in my tatami room, on the tatami mats. 
As we follow the Israeli  holiday calender, it was already Chol HaMoed - hence the photography.

Exploring my Neighborhood - Again

I clearly don't know my own neighborhood.

Apparently, there is a dragon mall.

Okinawa English

I saw these and had to share.

First time off Island

It has been seven months and this is my first time leaving Okinawa.
I am hesitant.
This is what I have gotten used to.

Like B'samim at Havdalah that helps us deal with the loss of our second soul and saying goodbye to Shabbat, this natural beauty in the airport helped. Who can't smile when they see orchids in an airport, and lining the passageways.

Okinawa World = Williamsburg, VA

This is the third day since being on island that I do something touristy.
So a friend and I visited Okinawa World. It is the local version of Williamsburg.

We went through a set of caves, toured the "village", saw the famous Okinawa drummers and hung out with some snakes, including a Habu snake.

Shisa dog made out of potted plants
 underwater river
Don't bang your head on a stalactite (I checked. it's not a stalagmite)
 In the cave, me as a bat.
 And now I am a shisa!

 Kris and the fish that eat dead skin off your feet.
Not sure what I am.

 Outside the Habu exhibit is a very large and fluffy bat.

 Me and the snake. This is NOT a Habu. It's a harmless, but large garden snake. 
 The snake charmer. I couldn't understand a word she said except "cobra" and "habu".

 Entrance to Okinawa World

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Purim this year was amazing. We had a wonderful celebration with costumes and food and I am so happy to be surrounded by such an outstanding community. We had our Purim players, way too  much Hamentachen (I am still eating them) and a great time catching up with each other.

I am blessed. Purim reminds me of this truth.

There's more Hamentachen, it just didn't make it into the picture.
 Esther and Mordechai
 Bigtan and Terash

 Bruce (and Sugano) took all the pictures and I know they'd be upset if I did not appear in any of them. 

Iwo Jima / Iwo To

The image of the four Marines and one Navy corpsman is the first thing that comes to mind when I say the words, "Iwo Jima" now renamed Iwo To. For marines, visiting Iwo Jima (sulfur island) is a pilgrimage they all try to make and take sand from the beach. I was honored this past week, to visit this sacred place that means so much to the marines I serve. 

Iwo bears the scars of perhaps the bloodiest battle in the Pacific. You can see the "pill boxes" the kilometers of tunnels, trenches that the Japanese made, planning for years of the American invasion for the airstrip on Iwo. The death toll was the greatest for such a short period of fighting, 36 days. Of the 21,000 Japanese on Iwo, only 1,000 remained while the US forces of 26,000 lost 7,000. 

All of these statistics only helped me appreciate the battle that much more while humping it (hiking) with my 7 colleagues from H&S BN (Headquarters and Services Battalion). The entire island was a battlefield. When I closed my eyes, I could hear the echos of the fighting in the wind, the scars on the rock formations I hiked past, every step, a reminder of the suffering and fighting that took place. 

Though we did not get to go up to Mt. Suribachi, we did have our own memorial down at the beach after everyone had the chance to collect some sand.

"Heavenly Father,
We stand together on sacred ground, walking in the footsteps of marines who came before us, whose acts of bravery and courage are hard to duplicate.

We are here because of their heroism.

On this hallowed ground, we mourn the loss of life and the need for war at all.

We remember and honor the bravery and commitment our countrymen showed  in the face of their adversaries.

We are inspired by their sacrifices, honored to pick up their packs and carry on. 

Semper Fidelis. 

Amen. "

 Below: Mt. Suribachi

 Mt. Suribachi

And midst all the suffering that went on here on this beach and across the island, beauty is here too.


Tunnels dug into the rock

Pre-hump picture with Captain Logan

Post hump down to the beach with Captain Hull