As I write, I am about as far from my home and synagogue in Forest Hills as I can be, or at least as I am likely to get. I am sitting in the living room of my daughter Leora’s apartment on Marine Camp Foster, one of some fifteen American military bases on the tiny but strategically important island of Okinawa, Japan. She is married, as many of you know, to Rabbi/Lieutenant Yonatan (Yoni) Warren, a Navy chaplain who is currently posted to a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) here in the Far East. A MEU is basically a Rapid Deployment Force that can move quickly to where the trouble is. There are a few of them stationed around the world in potentially volatile areas; this one covers the Far East. We are very, very proud of his service, and hers.
Brooklyn rabbi wins right to serve without shaving.
One year after filing suit against the U.S. Army for refusing to allow him to enlist as a military chaplain unless he shaved his beard, Rabbi Menachem Stern is to be sworn-in this week — beard and all.
Rabbi Stern, 29, of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, is to take the oath Friday in a ceremony in the Surfside, Fla., office of the Aleph Institute, an agency authorized by the Department of Defense to recruit, vet and endorse rabbis for the military chaplaincy.