Jewish GIs in Iraq
CNN has an interesting story about Jewish soldiers in Iraq. Jews in Green also often has some interesting stories.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — In the waning sunlight hour of a chilly winter afternoon, a chorus of Hebrew prayer rises from a small, fluorescent lit room on the outskirts of Baghdad.
Friday sunset marks Sabbath, or Shabbat, for observant Jews at U.S. Army Camp Striker, Iraq.
Leading the Shabbat service is Chaplain Andrew Shulman, one of just three ordained American rabbis serving hundreds of Jewish-American troops stationed throughout Iraq.
“Being deployed away from home brings people to the chapel,” says Shulman. “You don’t have a lot else going on a Friday night here. Back at home, you are competing with the movies and the long weekends and everything. Here, people are really looking forward to breaking up the monotony of the week.”
U.S. Army officials estimate that fewer than 1 percent of the some 16,000 service members in Shulman’s 3rd Infantry Division identify themselves as Jewish. But the chaplain often travels by Black Hawk helicopter to perform Jewish rites for troops who request them anywhere in the country that was once home to ancient Babylon.
“Hanukkah was a really busy time around here,” Shulman says. “Babylon had a very special place in Jewish history. This is where we were exiled 2,400-2,500 years ago. To come back and have the Hebrew language wafting through the halls of the chapel, it is special.”