Jewish Troops to Receive Menorahs


by Fay Kranz Greene

December 17, 2003

The Aleph Institute, a Chabad Lubavitch program that serves the spiritual needs of Jewish inmates and Jewish military personnel all over the world, has recently distributed Chanukah kits to 1300 Jewish troops serving in the U.S. military. The kits include a menorah and enough candles for the eight day Chanukah festival.

The Chanukah kits are being sent to locations around the globe including: Baghdad, Mosul, Tikrit, Afghanistan, Antarctica, Bosnia, Korea, Germany, Norway, The U.S.S. Peleliu and many military bases in the States. The Aleph Institute, headquartered in Bal Harbour, Florida, also distributed hundreds of Chanukah gifts to children of Jewish military families.

Also included in the kits is a small booklet “Courage and Safety” which was written by the sxith Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Y. Schneersohn, of sainted memory, to the Jewish soldiers serving in World War II. The message of hope and inspiration to the soldiers is as stirring today as it was then. The booklet also contains transliterated blessings and psalms and was designed to be carried along with the soldier’s personal gear.

Throughout the year, Aleph provides for the Jewish needs of the military by sending prayer books, Psalms, shofars, matzah, Purim gifts and other religious items to any soldier or chaplain who requests it.

Rabbi Mendy Katz, director of military programming for the Aleph Institute says that he receives letters daily from soldiers and chaplains thanking him for the packages. “Those letters inspire me and give me the energy to try and do more every day” he says.

“It’s an honor to be able to bring a little joy and light to the men and women serving our great nation” said Katz. “They are fighting for us, putting their lives on the line so that we can live in a liberated nation that respects religious freedom, which is the key message of Chanukah. We are proud and privileged to support them and show them we care.”

Katz shared a letter that he received from a chaplain serving with the troops in Iraq that sums it up eloquently and poignantly:

”Dear Rabbi Katz -- First let me thank you for what you have done. All the materials you sent for the holidays were perfect and the soldiers loved them. I only wish that you could have been there to see their faces of appreciation. I am scheduled to leave theater before Chanukah. With your help, I would love to pass out candles and Menorahs for the 20 Jewish soldiers in my area of northern Iraq, the city of Mosul. They are hitting us hard these last couple of weeks. I am humbled at the courage and sacrifice of the American soldier. A couple of weeks ago we lost a Jewish lieutenant, a West Point graduate. He was buried at West Point. It hit the Jewish cadets hard. Keep us in your prayers.”

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