Mayor, Jewish Chaplain, Deploys for Holidays
Menashe Miller is the Mayor of Lakewood Township in New Jersey. He is also a US Air Force Chaplain. A local news report covers his temporary displacement as Mayor so he can deploy over the Jewish holidays to support Jewish servicemembers in the war zone:
A farewell ceremony was held for the unsuspecting mayor at his final committee meeting for the year on Thursday. Committeeman Meir Lichtenstein organized a performance of the “Star Spangled Banner” as well as a Jewish prayer set to music.
As to Chaplain Miller’s motivation:
I am an Orthodox Jew. My great-grandparents were persecuted in many countries. The United States of America allows us to live free of persecution and this is an opportunity for me to give back to this great country.
As he notes, Chaplain Miller is only deploying for a few weeks to minister during the Jewish high holy days — though it is the second year in a row he will do precisely the same thing, missing, again, the holidays with his family. Hanukkah runs from 20-28 December this year.
There are not very many Jewish chaplains in the US military, but they are routinely activated and dispersed around the world to help Jewish members of the US military celebrate their holy days, even in combat areas in countries where their faiths would likely not be welcomed.
There is sacrifice, and there is risk, but the desire of these chaplains to serve, and the supportive religious environment within the US military, are admirable defenses of religious liberties and the constitutional protections of free exercise.