New year treats for Jewish soldiers

By Marcus Dysch, September 7, 2010

Packs of kosher provisions have been delivered to British Jewish troops serving in the armed forces to help them celebrate Rosh Hashanah.

The parcels include dried fruit and honey, powdered chicken soup, toffees and toiletries, and have been sent to locations including Afghanistan and the Falklands.

The Jewish Committee for HM Forces has also reissued the Soldiers' Siddur, for the first time since 1941.

British Army Chaplain Rabbi Arnold Saunders said: "People focus, understandably, on troops in the IDF and they know of the contribution of Jews during the two World Wars, but they do not realise what Jewish troops do today.

"The parcels are put together by volunteers from the Friends of Jewish Servicemen and Women charity. I will be sending a New Year message as well."

Rabbi Saunders said Jewish troops, numbering in the hundreds, serve around the world in all three armed forces. They work as medics, engineers, infantry troops and in other roles.

He said: "They are very grateful for the efforts of those in the community who support them. I want to pay tribute to those who give up their time to do so much to help support the troops."

Martin Newman, chairman of the Jewish Committee for HM Forces, said: "We have restricted the parcels to those on operations or people who we know are on their own and away from major communities in this country.

"We send out whatever is appropriate for each festival. For Chanucah we sent menorahs, at Pesach matzot.

"It means an awful lot to the guys. They often email me to express their gratitude."

Colonel Newman said it was difficult to give exact numbers of British Jewish troops, as individuals do not always identify themselves as Jewish when joining the forces.

Rabbi Saunders said Prince Charles had complimented Jewish troops' dedication during a special ceremony marking the reburial of Australian World War One soldiers in France in July.

Last updated: 10:23am, September 8 2010