Saturday, April 22, 2006

Army Base needs Rabbi

Estripes: Like thousands of other 13-year-old Jews last summer, Cole Dadswell celebrated his bar mitzvah — the crucial Jewish coming-of-age rite.But unlike that of most of his peers, the Camp Zama boy’s ceremony was held in a synagogue thousands of miles away, in Virginia. With no rabbi to serve the needs of military families in Japan, Cole did lessons with a rabbi by phone and used cassette tapes mailed to him to practice songs.Cole’s mother, Laura Dadswell, said without the understanding of that rabbi — a former servicemember himself — and from her family’s congregation back home, the unconventional ceremony might not have been possible.“We were very lucky,” she said.For the estimated 300 Jewish servicemembers, civilians and their families stationed in Japan, meeting ceremonial and ritual needs such as bar mitzvahs can be challenging or sometimes impossible.Since the last rabbi to be stationed in Japan left Okinawa in 2002, the various Jewish communities have used creativity and perseverance to maintain their traditions and community.“Without a doubt it is harder than in the civilian world,” said Laura Dadswell, wife of Warrant Officer Martin Dadswell.In the States, families can join an off-base congregation. In South Korea, one Jewish chaplain permanently based there serves the entire peninsula. In Japan, there is no military option.......
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