September 23, 2013
Jewish High Holy Days with the U.S. Army: Building a Sukkah in Kuwait

“Ok, Frommer, what’s your Religious Support Plan for the feast of Suck-it?”  I almost laughed, but when a superior officer asks you a serious question in the U.S. Army, that’s usually not the best response. Every year, Jews around the world build and dwell in temporary booths called sukkot, just as our biblical ancestors did on their journey from Egypt to the Land of Israel.  In 2012, as the only Jewish chaplain stationed in Kuwait, the festival of Sukkot was clearly in my Area of Responsibility, and as the first cantor ever to serve in military chaplaincy, I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t be the last.  “Sir, I’ll make sure the Jewish soldiers have the sukkah they need,” I answered smartly.  It was a plan as simple as it was foolproof, except for one tiny detail.  I had no idea how I was going to do it.
Perhaps I might have been more prepared if I’d grown up like everyone else I seemed to meet in the Army—on a farm in the Midwest, chopping down trees and handcrafting pigpens.  As it happened, my childhood on the Upper East Side of Manhattan involved plenty of construction, but mostly with Lincoln Logs and Lego sets, and always following the directions.  One year my family actually tried to assemble a life-size sukkah at our summer home in Claverack and though we never completed the project, we became too emotionally attached to our modest progress to ever dismantle it.  The PVC pipes of our unfinished attempt remained in the backyard for a decade, standing amidst plant growth like some ancient ruin, silently waiting for UNESCO to arrive and add it to the World Heritage List. 
Read more. [Image: David Frommer]

Jewish High Holy Days with the U.S. Army: Building a Sukkah in Kuwait

“Ok, Frommer, what’s your Religious Support Plan for the feast of Suck-it?”  I almost laughed, but when a superior officer asks you a serious question in the U.S. Army, that’s usually not the best response. Every year, Jews around the world build and dwell in temporary booths called sukkot, just as our biblical ancestors did on their journey from Egypt to the Land of Israel.  In 2012, as the only Jewish chaplain stationed in Kuwait, the festival of Sukkot was clearly in my Area of Responsibility, and as the first cantor ever to serve in military chaplaincy, I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t be the last.  “Sir, I’ll make sure the Jewish soldiers have the sukkah they need,” I answered smartly.  It was a plan as simple as it was foolproof, except for one tiny detail.  I had no idea how I was going to do it.

Perhaps I might have been more prepared if I’d grown up like everyone else I seemed to meet in the Army—on a farm in the Midwest, chopping down trees and handcrafting pigpens.  As it happened, my childhood on the Upper East Side of Manhattan involved plenty of construction, but mostly with Lincoln Logs and Lego sets, and always following the directions.  One year my family actually tried to assemble a life-size sukkah at our summer home in Claverack and though we never completed the project, we became too emotionally attached to our modest progress to ever dismantle it.  The PVC pipes of our unfinished attempt remained in the backyard for a decade, standing amidst plant growth like some ancient ruin, silently waiting for UNESCO to arrive and add it to the World Heritage List.

Read more. [Image: David Frommer]

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    Awesome picture