When a lone Jewish Sailor aboard a U.S. Naval vessel reached out and asked for help in celebrating the Jewish High Holy Days in 1956, the Navy and Army made it happen. The celebrating of the Holy Days that year was made possible, high above the artic circle thanks to the United States military. Learn more: FirstLiberty.org/Briefing
It was September 1956 and Elihu Schimmel was cold and lonely. He was stationed aboard a U.S. Naval vessel above the arctic circle. His location would account for his being cold, but he didn’t think there was much to be done about his loneliness.
Rosh Hashanah was set to begin and, aside from another Jewish sailor, Schimmel was several friends short of a minyan, a quorum of 10 Jewish men necessary for services. But, Schimmel knew there were others scattered about the fleet in the coldest theater of the Cold War.
He decided to ask the powers that be if they would help. The Navy, and the Army hitching a ride, enthusiastically agreed. The order went out that those wishing to join Schimmel aboard ship would be transported—by seaplane, launch, or helicopter—for the observance of the Jewish High Holy Days.
When the time came, 10 Jewish service men showed up—exactly enough. The Navy went further, announcing at sunset that the services were about to begin and ordering all aboard to show reverence by putting out their cigarettes.
Schimmel served out his time as a naval medical officer, but he would never forget that celebration, high above the Arctic Circle, made possible courtesy of the United States military.
And, we now won’t forget how the United States military honored the religious liberty of its service members.
To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit FirstLiberty.org.