Commodore Levy Chapel

November 2, 2017

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When a Jewish family or individual moves to a new community, they face many immediate challenges, not the least of which is choosing a synagogue, getting involved in the Jewish community, meeting new friends and creating a new social network. For a member of the military, those challenges become even more difficult. I have the honor of working with sailors and civilian DOD employees based at Naval Station Norfolk through the Commodore Levy Chapel.

The Commodore Levy Chapel, named as such in 1959 and built in 1942, is the United States Navy’s oldest Jewish chapel. Located at Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval base in the world, the chapel’s programming sees Jewish sailors and DOD personnel from all over the world and from every perspective imaginable.

Working with Jewish sailors is one of the most rewarding things that I do in my job as a rabbi. Hearing their challenges, helping them through tough times, and arranging connections for them so they can feel part of a larger community is something that I consider an honor and privilege. These individuals have chosen to put country before themselves and give back to the American people, protecting them from harm and enabling all of us to enjoy the freedoms that we often take for granted.

Judaism teaches us that we should take care of the world around us, our society, and our country. Our sages, of blessed memory, teach that Jews are commanded to keep the law of the land and honor the country that they live in so long as the society allows us to worship freely and honor G-d the way we choose.

These brave Jewish sailors epitomize these values. They risk their lives so we can practice our religion consistent with our country’s founding father’s vision. The Commodore Levy Chapel offers weekly programming, High Holiday placement, Hanukkah and Purim parties, classes, and much more. Being able to go the various commands, visit ships, and really get to know the sailors is a great honor. May G-d bless our Jewish sailors and all servicemen and servicewomen from all branches of military service who give up so much for all of us.

- Rabbi Gershon Litt

Letter to the Editor