George Washington Hosts Rabbi for Jewish Holidays

Story Number: NNS141007-01Release Date: 10/7/2014 4:07:00 AM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Beverly J. Lesonik, USS George Washington Public Affairs

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, At Sea (NNS) -- The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) welcomed aboard a Jewish chaplain to celebrate the Jewish High Holy Days, Sept. 23 - Oct. 5.

Lt. Emily Rosenzweig, a rabbi stationed at Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois, assisted in leading the ship's Jewish community in observing Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

"Traditionally the services are big and impressive, so we did our best to replicate the feeling aboard George Washington," said Rosenzweig.

Rosh Hashana marks the Jewish New Year with 10 days of repentance. Sailors celebrated the first evening by sharing a traditional meal together in the ship's wardroom lounge. Sailors also gathered in the ship's chapel for prayer and to read scripture during the celebration.

"These holidays are usually spent with family, with huge celebrations," said Rosenzweig. "We aren't able to celebrate the same way in the middle of the ocean, but there is something special about sharing the holidays with Sailors who serve with you."

The last day of Rosh Hashana is Yom Kippur, which means "Day of Atonement". Yom Kippur is observed by fasting from sunrise to sunset. Rosenzweig and George Washington Sailors invited Guam's Jewish community aboard the ship to celebrate the holiday together while anchored in Apra Harbor, Guam.

"In the past, joining the military sometimes meant that you had to give up certain religious practices," said Rosenzweig. "We are deployed in the middle of the ocean, we just completed Valiant Shield 2014, and we still complete normal ship operations yet today we are able to carve out time to observe our religious holidays."

Rosenzweig has been a rabbi for nine years and is one of 10 active-duty rabbis for the Navy and Marine Corps.

"I have been in the Navy for three years and this is my first time aboard a ship," said Rosenzweig. "The community aboard the ship sent a request for a rabbi through the Chaplain Corps and I was able to come to the ship and assist. There are so few rabbis in the Navy and we are spread thin, but I am happy to have been invited."

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