Military men and women share Shabbat experience

HM Forces personnel serving at home and abroad enjoyed a social and educational get-together


Jewish service personnel of all ranks stationed in the UK, Germany, Holland and America attended a Shabbaton at the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre near Andover.Along with family members, they enjoyed a programme of religious, cultural and social activities, directed by the senior Jewish chaplain to HM Forces, Rabbi Reuben Livingstone.

Participants included Royal Navy Commander Dan Weil and his wife, who is also a serving officer.

“Our community welcomes everyone,” he said. “We had people undergoing conversion and those who have not practised their religion for many years but want to learn more. This includes some who only found out they were Jewish when they came to join the forces.”

The keynote speaker was the Chief of Defence People, Lieutenant General Richard Nugee. A descendant of Viscount Samuel, Lt Gen Nugee discussed both his family heritage and the challenge of managing the manpower portfolio for defence.

Social highlight of the weekend was a post-Shabbat traditional mess dinner with kosher wine and port.

“Because of locations and postings, many of our regular service people don’t often get a chance to experience a Shabbaton and they enter into the spirit of the occasion with great enthusiasm,” Rabbi Livingstone said.

“Our object is inclusivity and all our explanatory religious services were fully attended and enjoyed by personnel of all shades of Judaism.”

Added Colonel Martin Newman, chair of the Jewish Committee for HM Forces: “As our Armed Forces Jewish community grows, we hope to attract more rabbis to come into uniform in our Reserve Forces.

“Our community also serves as an extended family to all Jewish personnel.”

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