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October 28, 2011     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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October 28, 2011
 

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PAGE 8#, I i Love the lulav Evelyn Taylor, a resident at Health Center Windermere, is visited every week by Marion Bromberg, volunteer with the Jewish Pavilion. Bromberg is showing Taylor how to hold the lulav and etrog for Sukkot. "I look forward every week for my friend Marion to come and visit," says Taylor. "We can sit and talk for hours!" Bromberg says she feels the same. "When I first started volunteering for the Pavilion, I thought it as a mitzvah to visit. Now I see the ladies I visit at Health Center Windermere are filst as much a mitzvah for me. They are truly my friends." B'nai Mitzvah Hannah Renee Kline, daughter of Victor and Kathy Kline of Longwood, Fla., will be called to the Torah as a bat mitzvah on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011 at Congregation of Reform Judaism in Orlando. Hannah is in the eighth grade at Rock Lake Middle School, where she is an honor student in the gifted program, plays the flute in the band and is a member .... of BETA Club. Her hobbies .......... and interests include art, music, summer camp in North Carolina, family vacations, traveling and hanging out with friends. She also is involved with Painting for Tots, creating custom paintings in exchange for donations to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Sharing in the family's simchawill be Hannah's sister, Rachel; grandmother, Harriet Kline from Boynton Beach; grandparents, Lois and Larry Kline from Cooper City; grandparents, Mary Ann and John ViUalva from Stuart; • grandfather, Bob Atkisson from Hobe Sound; and family and friends from around the country. Birth nouncements Michael and Jackie Hirsch of Winter Park, Fla., are proud to announce the birth of their daughter, Malena Ossin Hirsch. Malena was born Oct. 7 at Winter Park Memorial Hospital. She weighed 6 pounds, 12 ounces and was 19 inches long. Also welcoming Malena are her proud grandparents, Myrna and Arch[e Ossin of Altamonte Springs, Barry and Ellen Hirsch ofLansdale, Pa., Jackee Kaplan and Joe Lach- muth of West Palm Beach, and four great-grandparents, Sylvia Mordell of Boynton Beach, Lorraine Shulman of Coconut Creek, and Saul and Florence Hirsch of Aventura. HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 28, 2011 soldier to rabbi, one Afghanistan war veteran takes unusual path By Hillel Kuttler BALTIMORE (JTA)--When West Point's Jewish chaplain left the academy during- Joshua Knobel's freshman year, Knobel filled in for him, • running Jewish prayer ser- vices at the military school's chapel• In the years following his 2001 graduation, Knobel led services more than 6,000 miles east while deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq. His ca- reer choice crystallized there. Knobel decided to become a rabbi. "As I was making the deci- sion of who I wanted to be," Knobel said, "I realized that my path in life is to help peo- ple build communities based on the dynamic of a people and its sacred tradition." Now 32, Knobel (pro- nounced "noble"), a native of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., is midway through the five-year rab- binical program at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Insti- tute of Religion's Los Angeles carfipus. He expects to be or- dained in May 2014, and he's also working on a master's degree in Jewish education. While three current HUC students are undergoing chaplaincy training and a 2002 graduate serves as an Air Force chaplain, the reverse path is exceedingly rare. Rabbi Dvora Weisberg, director of HUC-JIR's School of Rabbinic Studies, called Knobel's "a very interesting career trajectory." He is the first student in her 10 years on campus to step from military service into the Reform rab- binical school. In an interview with JTA, Knobel said his interest in the rabbinate arose from his experiences dealing with the big-picture concerns of sol- diers. As a platoon leader and later a company commander, Knobel, a captain, provided telecommunications support in the field• He alsowas tasked with tending to his unit's morale and cohesion issues. Knobel spoke with sol- diers about their family and personal matters, including planning for civilian life post- discharge• "Military deployment is like a timeout, and people are eager to get back" home, he said. "But we--myself, commissioned officers, non- commissioned officers-- wanted to help soldiers figure out how to improve their lives once they returned: how to approach their relationships, their finances, what they want to do with their lives. "By the time I was a com- pany commander, I knew I wanted to do something other than what I was doing-- communications." What he wanted, Knobel said, was to "help people figure out how to ° live their.lives with purpose and intent." Those discussions some- times contained spiritual and religious dimensions. The U.S. military officially tries to avoid creating an uncomfortable environment regarding religion, so only those authorized to conduct religious services and per- form other religious duties may do so. Military chaplains who are spread thin may is- sue written orders allowing another person to fill the role of "designated faith group leader," as was Knobel. Knobel's first overseas post, Kuwait's Camp Udairi on the eve of America's War in Iraq, didn't always have a rabbi available to serve Jewish soldiers. So Knobel often substituted there and at the Kuwait City Interna- tional Airport base. While in Courtesy of Joshua Knobel Joshua gnobel, shown at Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan in 2007, says he wanted to "help people figure out how to live their lives with purpose and intent." Afghanistan, Knobel worked with Maj. Shmuel Felzenberg, the chaplai n who coordinated Jewish worship at Bagram Airfield and at other bases in the country. Knobel filled in when Felzenberg, who is affiliated with the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, was absent. Kno- bel spent holidays traveling between sites to lead services, sometimes at four bases. Jewish soldiers often flew by helicopter to reach Knobel and other rabbis. At a seder that Knobel led for eight Jewish soldiers at the Naray base in northeast Afghanistan, Knobel said he was moved by a fellow captain approximately his age who had not attended a seder since High school musicians liven up lunchtime at Health Center Windermere Residents at Health Center Windermere were in for a treat when they were welcomed to lunch in their main dining room by the sounds of chamber music. The four musicians were (bottom): Matthew Gerstenblitt; (top row, from left): Theodore Pampoukis, Terra Gurley and Samantha Chay. The Olympia high school's Chamber Quartet group played for more than 45 min- utes. One resident, Evelyn Taylor, said, "It was so exciting to see young people play classical music instead of the loud music of today. Another resident said that he was really enjoying the music but misses the music from his native country of Mexico at which point director Michael Simpson struck up a classical version ofthe Mexican Hat Dance. becoming a bar mitzvah. He hada powerful reaction to the singing of "Dayeinu," Knobel remembered. "You could see that he had touched something in his past," he said. The two spoke later about where the man's Jewish and general lives would go upon returning to America, Knobel said. "Those types of discussions were not infrequent," Knobel said. "Being removed from home makes you think of things in a different way, and if you have the frame of Juda- ism to look at the experiences, it shapes those conversations: who you are and who you're going to be. Felzenberg, now serving as West Point's Jewish chap- lain, .called Knobel's "good disposition and even-keeled nature" a good match both for the chaplaincy and for being a rabbi. "As we say in Judaism, 'Kishmo ken hu' "--one is as his name, Felzenberg said. "His character is noble in that he served his country and now is studying to be a rabbi." Knobel applied to rabbini- cal school in 2007 while still stationed abroad, then met with admissions officials while in New York on leave• Back in Afghanistan a week later, he received a letter of acceptance• A month after his discharge in June 2008 at Fort Bragg, N.C., Knobel began studying at HUC-JIR's Jerusalem campus. Knobel says he is consider- ing various career options, including the military chap- laincy. He served two years as a rabbinical intern at a synagogue in Yuma, Ariz., flying in one Shabbat a month plus holidays. This year he's working in the education department of a synagogue in San Fernando Valley, Calif. "I've always viewed it as my responsibility to make sure that Jewish soldiers, wher- ever I could find them, had a way of observing Shabbat, rituals or services," he said. "The purpose I've dedicated myself to can be served in a community congregation or in the military."