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    Sukkot Holiday on Camp Leatherneck Brings Joy to Jewish Service Members

    Sukkot Holiday on Camp Leatherneck Brings Joy to Jewish Service Members

    Photo By 1st Lt. James Mercure | Jewish Marines and sailors were able to celebrate Sukkot for the first time in...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. James Mercure 

    Regional Command Southwest

    CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan - The Jewish holiday of Sukkot is celebrated by Jews around the world and when Lt. Cmdr. Neal Kreisler, the Marine Aircraft Group 11 command chaplain and Rabbi arrived here he brought a piece of the holiday with him.

    Traveling from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar with his chaplain’s assistant Sgt. Steven Hurt, they brought a kosher Sukkah, or a small dwelling used outside the home during the holiday, that those practicing Judaism believe represents the Clouds of Glory by which the Israelites were protected after their exodus from Egypt.

    “The Sukkah represents God’s protection of the Jewish people who wandered in the desert on their way to Israel,” Kreisler explained. “We still feel protected in this temporary dwelling, because we know that it is God who provides protection. The Sukkah also symbolizes the temporary sojourn we all make on this earth. By contemplating the transience of human life, Jews are able to focus during the festival of Sukkot on the eternal principles and truths that connect us with eternity."

    During the holiday, those practicing the faith will conduct their normal daily tasks in the Sukkah, including eating and sleeping while in the shelter. As part of the ceremony for the holiday the Jewish people take a palm branch, a willow branch, a myrtle branch and a small piece of citrus fruit called an Etrog.

    “These represent the four types of Jewish people, each characterized by different levels of Torah observance,” Kreisler explained. “We point the Etrog and branches north, south, east, west, up and down, binding them together, as part of the ceremony,” Kreisler said.

    While in transit, a piece of the Sukkah was lost and Rabbi Kreisler enlisted the help of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 to build the missing components. While the Sukkah was under construction, a petty officer walked by and recognized the structure immediately.

    “I was shocked,” said Petty Officer Third Class Aaron Hutnick, a Seabee with NMCB-133 who also practices Judaism. “I saw a Rabbi building the walls and then it hit me they were building a Sukkah. It means a lot that they would send a Rabbi all the way out here to celebrate the holiday, and to have the Seabees be a part of that is pretty powerful.”

    For Hutnick and the other Jewish service members in attendance, celebrating the holiday was like having a home away from home.

    “Typically you would sit in the Sukkah and eat and drink with family,” Hutnick explained. “But the Marines and sailors out here are like family so it means just as much.”



    Date Taken: 10.04.2012
    Date Posted: 10.04.2012 13:15
    Story ID: 95715

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