USS BOXER, at sea – A Navy rabbi was on hand aboard USS Boxer (LHD 4) to celebrate Passover with the ship’s crew March 28.
Cmdr. Joel D. Newman, the Navy’s senior Rabbi, held the Passover celebration for Sailors aboard the amphibious assault ship while underway off the coast of California.
“Passover, a historical account of the Israelites’ release from captivity, is more of a re-telling of the freedom from slavery and the establishment of land in (modern day) Israel,” said Newman.
Newman, who was flown in from Naval Air Station North Island for the event, has held Passover feasts around the world to bring together military personnel for the celebration.
“Usually the celebration of the birth of the Jewish people is done at home and lead by a senior elder of a family. Here, we understand that even though we are deployed, those of us can still come in and observe Seder and remember what it was like to have family around,” he added. “The sights, smells and sounds can just take you back to a childhood memory.”
More than 20 Sailors attended the event. “This was a different experience, something that just opened my eyes to a new religion, I really liked it,” said Aviation Boatswains Mate 2nd Class (AW) Eddie L. Martin, one of the attendees.
The Passover Seder meal consisted of fish, vegetables, hard boiled eggs, roasted chicken, orange slices, potatoes and kosher sacramental wine. Several pieces of matzah were broken and served signifying hospitality and an invitation for others to join. Water added with salt, a representation of the tears shed by the slaves in captivity many years ago, was also served with a parsley sprig.
“I enjoyed it and would want to celebrate it next year at my church. I thought of the Last Supper 2000 years ago and what it must have been like to experience it,” said Aviation Boatswains Mate 3rd Class (AW) Justin A. Pokrandt. People from all faiths were encouraged to attend.
Newman shared that no matter what country he was in, or what language was spoken, the Seder follows the same ritual and is recited the same no matter where it is held. Seder, in fact, is a Hebrew word meaning “order.”
The Boxer’s Chaplains office provided support for the holiday.
“This was a new experience and my first Jewish service that I’ve helped with,” said Religious Programs Specialist 3rd Class Kyle R. Odoniel, who assisted the Rabbi with the service. “It really helped me to build up my knowledge (of the Jewish holiday) and of how to prepare and cook the meal for everyone.”