Fort Campbell Hires New Jewish Leader Amid Controversy
UPDATE: The Jewish Welfare Board’s Jewish Chaplains Council — which works with the military to provide support to Jewish service members — published a notice saying they would wait for the outcome of the investigation but that “Jewish services continue at Fort Campbell.”
Fort Campbell’s public affairs announced the Army post would be welcoming a new Distinctive Religious Group Leader (DRGL) for the Jewish community in May.
The volunteer position, referred to as a Distinctive Religious Group Leader, provides Friday night Shabbat services and holy day observances on post. They are certified by recognized religious organizations, and meet the religious needs of soldiers and their family members that military chaplains cannot meet, Jenkins said.
“Pending certification, Fort Campbell continues to provide a DRGL to its Jewish community,” Jenkins said.
Just a few days ago Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s complaint against Fort Campbell went public, in which his group essentially accused the Fort Campbell chaplains of anti-Semitism in the “firing” of the last lay leaders in February. The new announcement implies a replacement has already been found — and that’s not something that could have happened in just the past few days.
In other words, the “anti-Semitic” chaplaincy at Fort Campbell has been working to re-install a Jewish faith group leader.
The Tennessean of the USA Today Network was quick to quote Weinstein, but reporter Holly Meyer also did a reasonably good job of caveating his statements [emphasis added]:
Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, disputes Fort Campbell’s characterization of the Seder based on accounts from a few of his clients who attended the event. He declined to connect the USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee with those clients.
Most articles happily quote Weinstein’s press releases as if they are gospel, ignoring his seemingly fictional accounts of anonymous “clients.” That makes Meyer one of the few journalists to actually qualify Weinstein’s rantings with the limitation that he is the only — and unsubstantiated — source.
Given that Weinstein hasn’t paraded any other “clients” through the media yet, he either hadn’t yet socialized his complaint or his clients were merely the Mizes.
For the record, Fort Campbell brought in Army Reservist and Chaplain (Rabbi) Aaron Rozovsky to host a community Passover Seder Meal in March. Weinstein’s complaint is likely that the Seder was hosted on Wednesday the 28th, while Passover didn’t actually start until Friday the 30th.
Apparently Mikey Weinstein thinks Rabbi Rozovsky is part of the anti-Semitic plot at Fort Campbell.
Though Fort Campbell has opened an investigation, Weinstein has yet to specify any actual mistreatment or misconduct beyond implications of general strife and the sense that the Mize family wasn’t getting along with those at Fort Campbell.
As before, if Fort Campbell really was “persecuting” its Jewish community by “firing” the lay leaders, there is a serious issue. But, at present, there is very little data or even statements to substantiate that allegation — and, in fact, apparent evidence to refute it.