Today we mark the first day of the Hebrew month of Sivan. Few first days of the month in the Hebrew calendar serve as milestones of significance as does this date. Since the second evening of Passover, over six weeks ago, we have been counting the Omer, marking the beginning of each Hebrew day (in the evening) with a blessing and a ritual counting of the day. Like marking off days on a calendar in anticipation of a great event, counting the Omer is our Jewish anticipation-builder . . . for at the end of the counting we will have arrived at the 6th of Sivan, Shavuot, the festival marking the paradigm-creating revelation of Torah at Sinai. From the moment that our Israelite ancestors looked back at the Sea of Reeds behind them and found their pursuers drowning in the waters that God had held back for them, until approaching the wilderness of Sin (please don't get caught up in the coincidence between the English word "sin" and the Hebrew geographic term, there is really and truly no connection save coincidence) the Israelites had already experienced some elevating and some challenging moments: They had faced the uncertainties of food and water in the wilderness and learned to rely on God to sustain them; they had been introduced to Shabbat as a day of rest for God (who did not produce manna on Shabbat) and for themselves (they did not collect manna on Shabbat); they withstood a fierce attack by Amalek and his troops and were defended by Joshua and the Israelite troops sustained and inspired by God; Moses, advised by his father-in-law, Jethro, established a system of self-governance and dispute resolution . . . all before arriving at Sinai.
Although the walk to Sinai was through uncharted territory, the wandering of our ancestors was not random. The Israelites arrived at the third new moon . . . today's date, the beginning of the month of Sivan . . . guided by God's pillar of cloud during the day and pillar of fire by night and there they prepared themselves for the most extraordinary event they could not possibly anticipate.
I took a look at the challenges our walk from Passover to this first day of Sivan has involved as we, too, prepare to re-experience the revelation of Torah on Shavuot this coming week. We have mourned the victims of the Holocaust and shuddered when notes bearing Nazi rhetoric were handed to Jews attending Passover services in the Ukraine. We have found compassion and the conviction to speak out on behalf of the abducted schoolgirls of Nigeria, a compelling contemporary parallel to our own slavery story. We have organized to lobby for poverty-alleviating legislation here in Rhode Island. We have mourned both the troops who gave their lives for the establishment and defense of the State of Israel and those who gave their lives for the establishment and defense of the United States of America in two Memorial Days. Even in these GPS-guided days, our wanderings take us through uncharted territory.
We know that something great is going to happen next week. We have the advantage over our wilderness-walking ancestors in knowing that the revelatory moment awaiting us can bring wisdom and guidance, inspiration and challenge. The Sinai revelation was not a one-time event . . . our tradition teaches us that revelatory moments happen throughout time. When we come together as a community on Shavuot this week, let us stand shoulder-to-shoulder ready to accept the renewal of covenant with God which is the glue that binds us together . . . binds us to God and binds us to each other.
Letting the eternal and eternally renewing teachings of Torah into our daily lives will guide our walking and provide us with goals and aspirations and the tools to navigate the complexities we encounter in life.
This Shabbat, we embark on our annual reading of the book of Bamidbar, in English, the book of Numbers. The English name for this fourth book of the Torah is taken from the opening verses in which Moses is directed to conduct a census . . . "Add up the heads of all of the congregation of Israel by their families, by their fathers' houses, with the number of names of every male by their heads. From twenty years old and up, everyone going out to the army in Israel: you shall count them by their army units, you and Aaron." (Bamidbar/Numbers 1:2-3)
It is of profound significance to me that the United States Memorial Day and our reading of the opening passages of Numbers / Bamidbar coincide this weekend.
There are so many ways a God-ordained census of the Israelites might have been structured: There could have been a count of each woman and her progeny; there could have been a count of each household within each tribe; there could have been a count of each head of family . . . but this was a count of each male, twenty years old and up, able-bodied and serving in the army. God was instructing Moses to prepare for wandering through a wilderness, an intermittently populated wilderness in which it was going to be necessary to defend the column of trekking Israelites: men, women, children, elderly, ill and well. From a military point of view, it is, of course, important to know how many troops are at your command. From a community's point of view, it is, or should be, crucial to know the name of every single individual placing life on the line for the sake of the safety and integrity of the community.
In my close to 20 years living in Israel, I became part of a population protected by a citizens' army: our sons and daughters were drafted after high school, trained superbly, served honorably and then came home, or didn't. Every single military death in Israel is honored by the entire country: every fallen soldier's name, photograph, rank are shared on the national evening news. The entire country mourns, for every fallen soldier is a child of ours. Israel is a small country, so we feel these losses in a very immediate sense. Every family has someone who has served, is serving or is about to serve in the Israel Defense Forces, so we feel these losses in a very immediate sense. There is meaningful counting, census, acknowledging each individual in Israel, not just on the Shabbat we begin the reading of the book of Numbers.
When I came back to the States, I found the distance between the general population and our military losses to be disturbing, wrong, unhealthy. So it has been my practice to share not the just the numbers, but the names, ranks, ages and home states of those killed serving our country since the previous Memorial Day each year. We should enjoy the weekend's barbecues and family gatherings . . . but let us spend more than a moment acknowledging that we are enjoying this leisure because our children have served honorably and many have lost their lives serving our country.
Yes, we may have differences of opinions about the policies that have brought our troops into the range of fire; but our support and appreciation and mourning for our children who have died in military service is not a political or policy issue, it is a sacrifice we must humbly acknowledge.
Please do not skip over the rest of this blog.
Please read each and every name.
These are the US troops who died serving in Afghanistan since last Memorial Day . . . יהיו זכרם ברוך: May their memories be blessed; may their families be blessed with healing and peace of mind.
Date of death Name Rank Age Service Home State
5-17-2014 Perkins, Adrian M. Specialist 19 U. S. Army California
5-13-2014 Barreras, Martin R Command Sergeant Major 49 U. S. Army Arizona
5-11-2014 Rasmussen, Deric M. Chief Warrant Office 33 U. S. Army California
4-28-2014 Chandler, Christian J. Private 1st Class 20 U. S. Army Texas
4-28-2014 Farrell II, Shawn M. Sergeant 24 U. S. Army New York
4-15-2014 Danyluk, Kerry M. G. Specialist 27 U. S. Army Texas
4-01-2014 Chaffin III, James E. Captain 27 U. S. Army South Carolina
2-28-2014 Poirier, David L Master Sergeant 52 U.S. Air Force Rhode Island
2-28-2014 Erickson, Caleb L. Lance Corporal 20 U.S. Marine Minnesota
2-15-2014 Torian, Aaron C. Master Sergeant 36 U. S. Marine Kentucky
2-12-2014 Pelham, John A. Specialist 22 U. S. Army Oregon
2-12-2014 Skelt, Roberto C. Sergeant 41 U. S. Army Florida
2-10-2014 Landis, Christopher A. Specialist 27 U. S. Army Kentucky
2-10-2014 Gray, Joshua A. Private 1st Class 21 U.S. Army Kentucky
1-20-2014 Balli, Edward Chief Petty Officer 42 U. S. Army California
1-17-2014 Sipple, Andrew H. Specialist 22 U. S. Army North Carolina
1-15-2014 Lee, Daniel Tyler Sergeant 28 U. S. Army Tennessee
1-10-2014 Scobie, Drew M. Sergeant 25 U. S. Army National Guard Hawaii
1-10-2014 McAdams, Andrew L. Chief Warrant Officer 27 National Guard Wyoming
1-04-2014 Lacey, William K. Sergeant 1st Class 38 U. S. Army Florida
1-01-2014 Hess, Jacob M. Sergeant 22 U. S. Marine Washington
12-27-2013 Lyon, David I. Captain 28 U. S. Air Force Idaho
12-23-2013 Vasselian, Daniel M. Sergent 27 U. S. Marine Massachusetts
12-17-2013 Billings, Randy L. Chief Warrant Officer 2 34 U. S. Army Oklahoma
12-17-2013 Silverman, Joshua B. Chief Warrant Officer 2 35 U. S. Army Arizona
12-17-2013 Bohler, Peter C. Sergeant 29 North Carolina
12-17-2013 Forde, Omar W. Sergeant 1st Class 28 U. S. Army Georgia
12-17-2013 Gordon, Terry K. D. Specialist 22 U. S. Army Mississippi
12-17-2013 Williams, Jesse L Staff Sergeant 30 U. S. Army Indiana
12-11-2013 Smith, James L. Petty Officer 1st Class 38 U. S. Navy Texas
12-11-2013 Rodriguez, Matthew R. Lance Corporal 19 U. S. Marine Massachusetts
11-17-2013 Viola, Alex A. Staff Sergeant 29 U.S. Army Texas
11-13-2013 Vazquez, Richard L. Staff Sergeant 28 U. S. Army Texas
11-03-2013 Robertson, Forrest W. Sergeant 1st Class 35 U. S. Army Kansas
10-20-2013 Grant, Christopher O. Lance Corporal 20
10-18-2013 Turnbull, Lyle D. Sergeant 31 U. S. Army Virginia
10-13-2013 Quinn, Patrick H. Sergeant 26 U. S. Army Pennsylvania
10-06-2013 Moreno, Jennifer M. 1st Lieutenant 25 U. S. Army California
10-06-2013 Hawkins, Patrick C. Sergeant 25 U. S. Army Pennsylvania
10-06-2013 Peters, Joseph M. Sergeant 24 U. S. Army Missouri
10-06-2013 Patterson, Cody J. Private 1st Class 24 U. S. Army Oregon
10-05-2013 Lopez, Angel L. Specialist 27 U. S. Army Ohio
10-05-2013 Collins, Jeremiah M. Lance Corporal 19 U.S. Marine Wisconsin
9-26-2013 Baysore, Jr., Thomas A. Staff Sergeant 31 U. S. Army Pennsylvania
9-22-2013 Gibson, Jonathan S. Chief Warrant Officer 32 U.S. Navy Oregon
9-22-2013 Jones, Landon L. Lieutenant Commander 35 U.S. Navy California
9-21-2013 Nevins, Liam J. Staff Sergeant 32 U. S. Army Colorado
9-21-2013 McGill, Timothy R. Staff Sergeant 30 U. S. Army New Jersey
9-21-2013 Strickland, Joshua J. Specialist 23 U. S. Army Georgia
9-20-2013 Wickliffchacin, James T. Specialist 22 U. S. Army Oklahoma
9-19-2013 Brown III, William D. Sergeant 44 U. S. Army North Carolina
9-13-2013 Thomas Jr., Robert E. Staff Sergeant 24 U. S. Army California
9-05-2013 Lobraico Jr., Todd J. Staff Sergeant 22 U. S. Air Force Connecticut
8-31-2013 Bowden, Joshua J. Staff Sergeant 28 U. S. Army Georgia
8-28-2013 Ollis, Michael H. Staff Sergeant 24 U. S. Army New York
8-28-2013 Young, Ricardo D. Sergeant 1st Class 34 U. S. Army Arkansas
8-26-2013 Togi, Jason 1st Lieutenant 24 U. S. Army American Samoa
8-23-2013 Alvarez, Kenneth Clifford Specialist 23 U. S. Army California
8-23-2013 Hostetter, Jonathon Michael Dean Private 20 U. S. Army Missouri
8-20-2013 Banner Jr., George A. Master Sergeant 37 U.S. Army Virginia
8-11-2013 Hicks, Jamar A. Sergent 22 U. S. Army Arkansas
8-11-2013 Grace Jr., Keith E. Specialist 26 U. S. Army Texas
8-11-2013 Herrera, Octavio Staff Sergeant 26 U. S. Army Idaho
8-06-2013 Welch, Nickolas S. Specialist 26 U. S. Army Oregon
7-30-2013 Burley, Nicholas B. Specialist 22 U. S. Army California
7-28-2013 New, Stephen M. Sergeant 29 U. S. Army Tennessee
7-27-2013 Lawson, Eric T. Sergeant 30 U. S. Army Georgia
7-27-2013 Nouv, Caryn E. Specialist 29 U. S. Army Virginia
7-23-2013 Russell, Jonam 1st Lieutenant ?0 U. S. Army Arizona
7-23-2013 Smith, Stefan M. Sergent 24 U. S. Army Georgia
7-23-2013 Nichols, Rob L. Specialist 24 U. S. Army Colorado
7-22-2013 Maddox, Anthony R. Specialist 22 U. S. Army Texas
7-16-2013 Zimmerman, Sonny C. Staff Sergeant 25 U. S. Army Ohio
7-14-2013 Tuttle, Benjamin W. Lance Corporal 19 U. S. Marine Arkansas
7-04-2013 Milliard, Errol D.A. Private 18 U. S. Army Alabama
7-03-2013 Stapley, Tracy L. First Sergeant 44 U. S. Army Utah
7-02-2013 Clayton, Hilda I. Specialist 22 U. S. Army Georgia
6-28-2013 Rogers, Justin R. Sergeant 25 U.S. Army New York
6-23-2013 Garver, Corey E. Sergeant 25
6-23-2013 Sanchez Jr., Javier Specialist 28 U. S. Army California
6-19-2013 Johnson, Justin R. Sergeant 25 U. S. Army Florida
6-19-2013 Alt, Ember M. Specialist 21 U. S. Army South Carolina
6-19-2013 Ellis, Robert W. Specialist 21 U. S. Army Washington
6-19-2013 Moody, William R. Specialist 30 U. S. Army Texas
6-16-2013 Brown, Jared W. Lance Corporal 20 U. S. Marine Florida
6-10-2013 Thomas Jr., Jesse L. Staff Sergeant 31 U. S. Army Florida
6-08-2013 Leonard, Jaimie E. Major 39 U. S. Army New York
6-08-2013 Clark, Todd J. Lieutenant Colonel 40 U. S. Army New York
6-03-2013 Sisson, Justin L. 2nd Lieutenant 23 U.S. Army Arizona
6-03-2013 Pierce, Robert A. Specialist 20 U.S. Army Oklahoma
6-02-2013 Mullen, Sean W. Warrant Officer 39 U.S. Army Delaware
6-01-2013 Stoeckli, Kyle P. Specialist 21 U.S. Army Virginia
6-01-2013 Ramirez, Ray A. Specialist 20 US Army California
6-01-2013 Raymundo, Mariano M. Private 1st Class 21 U.S. Army Texas
5-30-2013 Nunezrodriguez, Joe A. Staff Sergeant 29
Not a week goes by when there is not some news item about Israel or the middle east. This week, as we commemorate Israel's fallen defense forces during Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) and transition into the celebrations around Yom Ha'atzma'ut (Independence Day), I think it's worth taking a few moments to reflect on the beginnings of the State of Israel.
Israel is a unique mixture of ancient roots and modern formation: Through much of the book of Breishit/Genesis, we witness God's promise to Abraham and his progeny that their relationship with God's land will be part of an eternal covenant. This element of our brit/covenant with God is so essential to our being, we have turned daily to face that land as we pray no matter where in the world we are: South African Jews face north, the Jews of Scotland turn south, Jews in Tokyo face west and we here in Rhode Island face east during prayer. The element of The Land is so central to our brit/covenant with God, that our rabbinic literature has embroidered and elevated the nature of The Land in order to foster this ongoing love for God's Land: the fruit is sweeter, the animals healthier, milk and honey (actually date syrup!) flows with abundance. These images inspired us during millennia of exile. Jews in Europe would leave a small patch of wall unpainted in the upper corner of a room in their homes to show that life is incomplete as long as we are living anywhere but The Land.
Since 1948, the Land of Israel has transformed into a modern polity, the State of Israel. In 66 short years, a breathtakingly beautiful and raucous and fragile and steadfast and ground-breaking and brilliant and bewildering and inspiring democracy has emerged. For a moment, let us put aside the contentious issues of the day and remember how the State of Israel took shape. What follows is the proclamation issued in Tel Aviv on May 14, 1948, the 5th of Iyar 5708. So much has happened since that day, and with the support and pride and involvement of Jews all over the world, the State of Israel will continue, with God's blessing, to thrive, grow and contribute as a respected nation.
Provisional Government of Israel
Official Gazette: Number 1; Tel Aviv, 5 Iyar 5708, 14.5.1948 Page 1
The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people.
Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books.
After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom.
Impelled by this historic and traditional attachment, Jews strove in every successive generation to re-establish themselves in their ancient homeland. In recent decades they returned in their masses. Pioneers, defiant returnees, and defenders, they made deserts bloom, revived the Hebrew language, built villages and towns, and created a thriving community controlling its own economy and culture, loving peace but knowing how to defend itself, bringing the blessings of progress to all the country's inhabitants, and aspiring towards independent nationhood.
In the year 5657 (1897), at the summons of the spiritual father of the Jewish State, Theodore Herzl, the First Zionist Congress convened and proclaimed the right of the Jewish people to national rebirth in its own country.
This right was recognized in the Balfour Declaration of the 2nd November, 1917, and re-affirmed in the Mandate of the League of Nations which, in particular, gave international sanction to the historic connection between the Jewish people and Eretz-Israel and to the right of the Jewish people to rebuild its National Home.
The catastrophe which recently befell the Jewish people--the massacre of millions of Jews in Europe--was another clear demonstration of the urgency of solving the problem of its homelessness by re-establishing in Eretz-Israel the Jewish State, which would open the gates of the homeland wide to every Jew and confer upon the Jewish people the status of a fully privileged member of the community of nations.
Survivors of the Nazi holocaust in Europe, as well as Jews from other parts of the world, continued to migrate to Eretz-Israel, undaunted by difficulties, restrictions and dangers, and never ceased to assert their right to a life of dignity, freedom and honest toil in their national homeland.
In the Second World War, the Jewish community of this country contributed its full share to the struggle of the freedom- and peace-loving nations against the forces of Nazi wickedness and, by the blood of its soldiers and its war effort, gained the right to be reckoned among the peoples who founded the United Nations.
On the 29th of November, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a Jewish State in Eretz-Israel; the General Assembly required the inhabitants of Eretz-Israel to take such steps as were necessary on their part for the implementation of that resolution. This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish their State is irrevocable.
This right is the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State.
Accordingly we, members of the People's Council, representatives of the Jewish Community of Eretz-Israel and of the Zionist Movement, are here assembled on the day of the termination of the British Mandate over Eretz-Israel and, by virtue of our natural and historic right and on the strength of the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.
We declare that, with effect from the moment of the termination of the Mandate being tonight, the eve of Sabbath, the 6th Iyar, 5708 (15th May, 1948), until the establishment of the elected, regular authorities of the State in accordance with the Constitution which shall be adopted by the Elected Constituent Assembly not later than the 1st October 1948, the People's Council shall act as a Provisional Council of State, and its executive organ, the People's Administration, shall be the Provisional Government of the Jewish State, to be called "Israel." The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
The State of Israel is prepared to cooperate with the agencies and representatives of the United Nations in implementing the resolution of the General Assembly of the 29th November, 1947, and will take steps to bring about the economic union of the whole of Eretz-Israel.
We appeal to the United Nations to assist the Jewish people in the building-up of its State and to receive the State of Israel into the community of nations.
We appeal--in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months--to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.
We extend our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.
We appeal to the Jewish people throughout the Diaspora to rally round the Jews of Eretz-Israel in the tasks of immigration and upbuilding and to stand by them in the great struggle for the realization of the age-old dream--the redemption of Israel.
Placing our trust in the Almighty, we affix our signatures to this proclamation at this session of the provisional Council of State, on the soil of the Homeland, in the city of Tel-Aviv, on this Sabbath eve, the 5th day of Iyar, 5708 (14th May, 1948).
Daniel Auster Mordekhai Bentov Yitzchak Ben Zvi Eliyahu Berligne Fritz Bernstein Rabbi Wolf Gold Meir Grabovsky Yitzchak Gruenbaum Dr. Abraham Granovsky Eliyahu Dobkin Meir Wilner-Kovner Zerach Wahrhaftig Herzl Vardi Rachel Cohen Rabbi Kalman Kahana Saadia Kobashi Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Levin Meir David Loewenstein Zvi Luria Golda Myerson Nachum Nir Zvi Segal Rabbi Yehuda Leib Hacohen Fishman David Zvi Pinkas Aharon Zisling Moshe Kolodny Eliezer Kaplan Abraham Katznelson Felix Rosenblueth David Remez Berl Repetur Mordekhai Shattner Ben Zion Sternberg Bekhor Shitreet Moshe Shapira Moshe Shertok
As we all anticipate the long weekend of Memorial Day, I ask you all to pause a contemplate the following list. These are the names, ranks and home locations of the US troops who died in the line of duty since Memorial Day 2012.
We pray that by May 2014 there will be no list at all for me to share with you and that the men and women wearing the uniforms of the United States Military will not be putting their lives on the line in the course of their duty.
May the memories of the following US troops serve as an inspiration to us to seek peace and to cherish the unique democracy we enjoy here in the United States.
Flores, Dwayne W., Specialist, 22, from Guam
Aguon, Eugene M., Sergeant, 23, from Guam
Rhea, Trenton L., Sergeant 1st Class, 33, from Kansas
NAME NOT RELEASED YET, Not reported yet
Baker, Jeffrey C., Sergeant 1st Class, 29, from California
Daehling, Mitchell Kirk, Specialist, 24, from Massachusetts
Gilbert, William Joseph, Specialist, 24, from California
Sonka, David M., Corporal, 23, from Colorado
Christian, Eric D., Staff Sergeant, 39, from New York
Thomas Paige, Specialist, 22, from Idaho
Phillips IV, Francis Gene, Staff Sergeant, 28, from New York
Prescott, Brandon Joseph, Specialist, 24, from Oregon
Cardoza, Kevin, Specialist, 19, from Texas
Landrum, Brandon J., 1st Lieutenant, 26, from Oklahoma
Voss, Mark T., Captain, 27, from Colorado
Pinckney, Victoria A., Captain, 27, from California
Mackey III, Herman, Technical Sergeant, 30, California
Santiago Jr., Trinidad, Specialist, 25, from California
McClure, Charles P., Private 1st Class, 21, from Oklahoma
Simpson, Michael H., Staff Sergeant, 30, from Texas
Fannin, Daniel N., Staff Sergeant, 30, from Kentucky
Dickson, Richard A., Staff Sergeant, 24, from California
Nishizuka, Reid K., Captain, 30, from Hawaii
Cyr, Brandon L., Captain, 28, from Virginia
Hess, Robert J., 1st Lieutenant, 26, from Virginia
Blanchard, Aaron R., Captain, 32, from Washington
Austin, Barrett L., Private 1st Class, 20, from South Carolina
Yoder, Jarett M., Chief Warrant Officer 2, 26, from Pennsylvania
Ruffner, Matthew P., Chief Warrant Officer 3, 34, from Pennsylvania
NAME NOT RELEASED YET, Not reported yet
Santos Jr., Deflin M., Specialist, 24, from California,
Robles-Santa, Wilbel A., Specialist, 25, Puerto Rico,
Ward, Christopher M., Staff Sergeant, 24, from Tennessee
Steel, James Michael, Captain, 29, from Florida
Reagan, Curtis S., Chief Warrant Officer, 43, from South Carolina
Cable, Michael C., Sergeant, 26, from Kentucky
Wade, Tristan M., Sergeant, 23, from Indiana
Groves III, James E., Chief Warrant Officer, 37, from Ohio
Proctor, David T., Specialist, 26, from North Carolina
Pike, Christian Michael, Chief Petty Officer, 31, from Arizona
Blass, Steven P., Staff Sergeant, 27, from Iowa
Henderson, Bryan J., Chief Warrant Officer, 27, from Louisiana
Knutson, Sara M., Captain, 27, from Maryland
Scialdo, Marc A., Staff Sergeant, 31, from Florida
Shannon, Zachary L., Specialist, 21, from Florida
Schad, Rex L., Staff Sergeant, 26, from Oklahoma
Pedersen-Keel, Andrew M., Captain, 28, from Connecticut
Suggs, Cody D., Specialist, 22, from Ohio
Bunn, Larry D., Technical Sergeant, 43, from Louisiana
Davis, Jonathan D., Staff Sergeant, 34, from Arizona
Schoonhoven, Mark H., Sergeant, 38, Michigan
Chambers, David J., Sergeant, 25, from Virginia
Wittman, Aaron X., Sergeant, 28, from Virginia
Sims, Markie T., Private 1st Class, 20, from Florida
Mondragon, Enrique, Sergeant, 23, from Texas
Price, Job W., Commander, 42, from Pennsylvania
Robinson, Leonard, Lieutenant, 29, from North Carolina
Lipari, Kevin E., Sergeant 1st Class, 39, from New York
Guillory, Michael J., Sergent, 28, from Louisiana
Trent, Nelson D., Staff Sergeant, 37, from Texas
Reid, Nicholas J., Staff Sergeant, 26, from New York
Williams, Wesley R., Staff Sergeant, 25, Ohio
Checque, Nicolas D., Petty Officer 1st Class, 28, from Pennsylvania
Orgaard, Tyler J., Specialist, 20, from North Dakota
Linde, Darren M., Sergeant 1st Class, 41, from Montana
Denier, Anthony J., Lance Corporal, 26, from New York
Monahan Jr., Christopher M., Corporal, 25, from New Jersey
Ebbert, Kevin R., Petty Officer 1st Class, 32, from California
Shanafelt, Zachary, Specialist, 24, from Michigan
Means, Dale W., Lance Corporal, 23, from Minnesota
Hicks, Channing B., Sergeant, 24, from South Carolina
Richardson, Joseph A., Specialist, 23, from Arkansas
Battle Jr., Rayvon, Staff Sergeant, 25, from North Carolina
Stiltz, Matthew H., Sergeant, 26, from Washington
Bennett, Kenneth W., Staff Sergeant, 26, from California
Nehl, James D., Captain, 37, from Oregon
Carlson, Daniel L., Specialist, 21, from California
Buttry, Brandon L., Private 1st Class, 19, from Iowa
Venne, Dain T., Staff Sergeant, 29, from New York
Jayne, Ryan P., Specialist, 22, from New York
Gornewicz, Brett E., Specialist, 27, from New York
Kantor, Matthew G., Petty Officer 2nd Class, 22, from New Jersey
Domion, Alex F., Corporal, 21, from New York
Memon, Kashif M., Staff Sergeant, 31, from Texas
Ruiz, Clinton K., Sergeant, 22, from California
Duskin, Michael S., Chief Warrant Office, 42, from Florida
Wilson, Shane G., Private 1st Class, 20, from Idaho
Savard, Ryan J., Sergeant 1st Class, 29, from Arizona
Gordon, Brittany B., Specialist, 24, from Florida
Billings, Robert J., Sergeant, 30, from Virginia
Macpherson, Thomas R., Sergeant, 26, from California
Tiu, Joel Del Mundo, Commander, 49, from Philippines
Schiro, Joseph L., Warrant Officer, 27, from Florida
Marquez, Justin C., Staff Sergeant, 25, from North Carolina
Brown, Milton W., Culinary Specialist 2nd Class, 28, Texas
Steedley, Camella M., Sergeant, 31, from California
Henderson, Aaron A., Sergeant 1st Class, 33, Maine
Johnson, Donna R., Sergeant, 29, from North Carolina
Butler IV, Thomas Jefferson, Sergeant, 25, from North Carolina
Hardison, Jeremy F., Sergeant, 23, from North Carolina
Metcalfe, Daniel T., Sergeant 1st Class, 29, from New Jersey
Stephens, Riley G., Sergeant 1st Class, 39, Texas
Gollnitz, Jonathan A., Sergeant, 28, New Jersey
Sparks, Orion N., Staff Sergeant, 29, from Arizona
Roberts, Rashun, Gunners Mate 2nd Class, 23, from Illinois
Swindle, Jason M., Sergeant, 24, from Arkansas
Nena, Sapuro B., Sergeant, 25, from Hawaii
Nelson, Joshua N., Specialist, 22, from North Carolina
Bedoy, Genaro, Private 1st Class, 20, from Texas
Townsend, Jon R., Private 1st Class, 19, Oklahoma
Raible, Christopher K., Lieutenant Colonel, 40, from Pennsylvania
Atwell, Bradley W., Sergeant, 27, from Indiana
Osborn, Kyle B., Sergeant, 26, from Indiana
Ramirez, Thalia S., Chief Warrant Officer 2, 28, from Texas
Montenegro Jr., Jose L., Chief Warrant Officer 2, 31, Texas
Terwiske, Alec R., Lance Corporal, 21, from Indiana
Rookey, Kyle R., Specialist, 23, from New York
Border, Jeremie S., Staff Sergeant, from Texas
Schmidt, Jonathan P., Staff Sergeant, 28, from Virginia
Cantu, Shane W., Private 1st Class, 20, from Michigan
Wing, Jessica M., Staff Sergeant, 42, from Virginia
Anders, Mabry J., Specialist, 21, from Oregon
Birdwell, Christopher J., Sergeant, 25, from Colorado
Horne, Patricia L., Private 1st Class, 20, from Mississippi
Torres, Louis R., Sergeant, 23, from Ohio
Debose, Coater B., Sergeant 1st Class, 55, from Mississippi
Williams, David V., Sergeant, 24, from Maryland
Justice, James A., Specialist, 21, North Carolina
Copes, Gregory T., Staff Sergeant, 36, from Virginia
Enos, Darrel L., Hospital Corpsman Petty Officer 1st Class, 36, from Colorado
Demarsico II, Michael R., Private 1st Class, 20, from California
Warsen, David J., Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 2nd Class, 27, from Michigan
Galbreath, Luis A. Oliver, Sergeant, 41, from Puerto Rico
Essex, Richard A., Sergeant, 23, from California
Feeks, Patrick D., Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class, 28, from Maryland
Carson, Sean P., Explosive Ordnance Disposal Petty Officer Technician, 32, from Washington
Krause, Suresh N. A., Chief Warrant Officer, 29, from California
Hornsby, Brian D., Chief Warrant Officer, 37, from Florida
Holman, Eric S., Staff Sergeant, 39, from Pennsylvania
Dickinson, Scott E., Staff Sergeant, 29, from California
Rivera Jr., Richard A., Corporal, 20, from California
Buckley, Gregory T., Lance Corporal, 21, from New Jersey
Jeschke, Ryan , Gunnery Sergeant, 31, from Virginia
Mote, Sky R., Staff Sergeant, 27, from California
Manoukian, Matthew P., Captain, 29, from California
Kennedy, Thomas E., Major, 35, from New York
Griffin, Kevin J., Command Sergeant Major, 45, Wyoming
Gray, Walter D., Major, 38, from Georgia
Trent, Gregory R., Master Sergeant, 38, from Massachusetts
Martin, Ethan J., Specialist, 22, from Idaho
Beauchamp, Clayton R., Petty Officer 3rd Class, from Texas
Linnabary II, Daniel L., Corporal, 23, from North Carolina
Sitton, Matthew S., Staff Sergeant, 26, from Florida
Bell, Russell R., 1st Sergeant, 37, from Texas
Lopez, Jesus J., Private 1st Class, 22, from California
Lambka, Todd W., 1st Lieutenant, 25, from Michigan
McClain, Kyle B., Specialist, 25, from Michigan
Duarte, Curtis J., Lance Corporal, 22, from California
Price, Daniel J., Gunnery Sergeant, 27, Michigan
Gifford, Jonathan W., Gunnery Sergeant, 34, from Florida
Belmontes, Jose Oscar, Private 1st Class, 28, from California
Estle, Bobby L., Sergeant, 38, from Ohio
Pleitez, Benjamin C., Specialist, 25, from California
Glende, Theodore M., Private 1st Class, 23, from New York
Jacobs, Sean R., 1st Lieutenant, 23, from California
Hansen, John E., Sergeant, 41, from Texas
Ross, Adam C., Private 1st Class, 19, from South Carolina
Hansen, Justin M., Sergeant, 26, from Michigan
Williams, Eric E., Sergeant, 27, from California
Colvin, Julian L., Private 1st Class, 21, from Alabama
Berry, Richard L., Staff Sergeant, 27, from Arizona
Horsley, Justin L., Specialist, 21, from Florida
Salazar, Brenden N., Private 1st Class, 20, from Florida
Brodsky, Michael J., Petty Officer 2nd Class, 33, from Florida
Pepper, Brandon R., Staff Sergeant, 31, from Pennsylvania
Hicks, Darrion T., Specialist, 21, from North Carolina
Ashley, Joshua R., Corporal, 23, from California
Rice, Jeffrey L., Private 1st Class, 24, from Ohio
Reyes, Jose, Sergeant, 24, from Puerto Rico
Rodriguez, Daniel, Sergeant, 28, from Maryland
Fitts, Krystal M., Specialist, 26, from Texas
Perez Jr., Sergio E., Specialist, 21, from Indiana
Taylor, Nicholas A., Specialist, 20, from Indiana
Hammar, Carl E., Staff Sergeant, 24, from Arizona
May, Erik N., Sergeant, 26, from Kansas
Ristau, Michael E., Sergeant, 25, from Illinois
Wyatt, Sterling W., 21, from Missouri
Adkins, Trevor B., Private 1st Class, 21, from North Carolina
Pardo, Alejandro J., Private 1st Class, 21, from California
Stambaugh, Cameron J., Private 1st Class, 20, from Pennsylvania
Williams III, Clarence, Sergeant, 23, from Florida
Alecksen, Erica P., Specialist, 21, from Georgia
Seija, Ricardo, Staff Sergeant, 31, from Florida
Batista, Jonathan, Specialist, 22, from New Jersey
Navarro, Juan P., Corporal, 23, from Texas
MacFarlane, Bruce A., Captain, 46, from Florida
Guerra, Raul M., Staff Sergeant, 37, from New Jersey
Rodriguez Jr., Roberto A., from North Carolina
Moosman, Cody O., Private 1st Class, 24, from Idaho
Skalberg Jr., James L., Sergeant, 25, from Alabama
Prasnicki, Stephen C., 1st Lieutenant, 24, from Virginia
White, Jason, 24, from Virginia
Leach, Matthew J., Staff Sergeant, 29, from Michigan
Strachota, Michael J., Sergeant, 28, from Arkansas
Massarelli, Robert A., Staff Sergeant, 32, from Ohio
Cotisears, Niall W., Lance Corporal, 23, from Virginia
Hogan, Hunter D., Lance Corporal, 21, from Indiana
Voelke, Paul C., Major, 36, from New York
Stevens II, Steven P., Private 1st Class, 23, from Florida
Mills III, Eugene C., Lance Corporal, 21, from Maryland
Meador II, John D., Specialist, 36, from South Carolina
Thomas, Matthew B., Sergeant 1st Class, 30, from South Carolina
Rawl, Ryan D., 1st Lieutenant, 30, from South Carolina
Rodriguez, Jose, Sergeant, 22, from California
Lallier, Jarrod A., Private 1st Class, 20, from Washington
Fredsti, Nicholas C., Sergeant, 30, from California
Lilly, Joseph M., Sergeant, 25, from Michigan
Pinnick, Trevor A., Specialist, 20, from Illinois
McNabb, Barett W., Sergeant 1st Class, 33, from Arizona
Luxmore, Bryant J., Specialist, 25, from Illinois
Davis, Nathan T., Private 1st Class, 20, from California
Servin, Anthony R., Corporal, 22, from California
Kessler Jr., Richard J., Master Chief Petty Officer, 47, from Florida
Goodine, Brandon D., Private 1st Class, 20, from Georgia
Fazzari, Mathew G., 1st Lieutenant, 25, from Washington
Pace, Scott P., Captain, 39, from California
Ellis, Vincent J., Private 1st Class, 22, from Japan
Campos, Gerardo, Specialist, 23, from Florida
Povilaitis, Alexander G., Staff Sergeant, 47, from Georgia
Witsman, Joshua, Lance Corporal, 23, from Indiana
Brazas, Sean E., Petty Officer 2nd Class, 26, from North Carolina
Olivas, Nicholas H., Corporal, 20, from Ohio
Parashat Bamidbar Torah Reading: Numbers 1:1-4:20
Over the course of time, Memorial Day Weekend has come to signal the beginning of the summer season here in the United States. Rhode Islanders will, no doubt, be heading for the beaches, hitting the sales, breaking out the barbecue grills. It's a weekend many look forward to.
I would like to take a moment, as this weekend begins, to Memorialize. My children, as many of you know, served in the Israel Defence Forces. As a baby boomer growing up in New Jersey, I don't think it ever occurred to me that I would be the mother of soldiers. I became the proud mother of soldiers.
In Israel, Yom HaZikaron / Israel's Memorial Day is a solemn day. The entire country pauses at the sound of a siren in the morning, to remember those who gave their lives to secure the existence and continued security of the State and citizens of Israel.
We here in the United States owe those who fell in the course of duty establishing and defending the security of the United States that same solemnity. Whether we agree with the political decisions that send our troops into harm's way is irrelevant. That they served our country with pride and honor and never came back to enjoy a summer barbecue with their loved ones is very much relevant.
In this spirit, I am proud to share with you a prayer composed by Rabbi Gerald Skolnik, a colleague of mine in the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly:
A PRAYER FOR AMERICA'S MILITARY PERSONNEL
Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik The Forest Hills Jewish Center
Ribbono Shel Olam!
Sovereign of the Universe!
We invoke your blessings upon the members of our American military forces, those brave men and women whose courage and commitment to that for which this country stands protects us all.
Whether by air, land or sea, in the mountains of Afghanistan, the cities and deserts of Iraq, or wherever their orders take them, we ask, dear God, that they be protected within your sheltering presence.Shield them from harm and from pain, assuage their loneliness, and sustain their faith in the face of the formidable enemies that they confront on a daily basis.
May all of their efforts be crowned with victory, and the assurance that we who depend on their courage appreciate and understand the great difficulty of their work.
Most of all, we pray what for all soldiers is the ultimate prayer- that they be privileged to return to the loving arms of their families and a grateful country safely, speedily, and in good health.Because of their courage, may we all be privileged to know and savor the blessings of true peace and security.
Rabbi Amy Levin
has been Torat Yisrael's rabbi since the summer of 2004 and serves as President of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island.