What does the Navy and the Jewish Outreach Institute have to do with one another? Well, for one, I am involved in both. This past Friday, in front of my co-workers, I was commissioned as a Navy Chaplain Reservist. That means for two days a month and two weeks a year, I will join a Navy unit as their Chaplain. This ceremony marked the culmination of six years of training, which took place on and off throughout rabbinical school. My training has taken me to Newport, RI, Camp Pendleton Corps base just south of San Diego, and to Japan. I have met Jews from all walks of life, from the Marine officer who went to Jewish day school with a friend of mine, to the sailor who had been exploring Judaism with his wife for many years and was thinking about converting. I have lead Torah studies, Shabbat and High Holiday services, and given a nonsectarian prayer aboard a ship in the Pacific Ocean.
As a Navy Chaplain, I am both a rabbi, specifically, and a chaplain, generally. That means I do all the religious functions of a rabbi such as lead services and officiate at life cycle events and am also a resource and counselor to all sailors and Naval officers, no matter what their religion or background.