Ranking Chaplains for the 101st Airborne Division have allegedly dismissed Jewish leaders who have historically led Shabbat and festival services for Jewish soldiers on post.
No explanation was given for the dismissal, but it has left Jewish soldiers without religious services for themselves and their families. The chaplains also refused to support arrangements for a first-night Passover Seder as it conflicted with Christian celebrations.
Jeanette Mize served, with her family, as a lay leader for the services, but they were allegedly dismissed without explanation. Mize said that her family had “faithfully provided weekly Shabbat and yearly religious worship events since 1999” and that “this is the first time in at least 34 years that the Jewish soldiers and their families have been denied weekly Shabbat worship at Fort Campbell”.
Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation was alerted by Mize of what had transpired, and subsequently contacted the division’s chief of staff. A “15-6” investigation has since been launched, a serious measure which indicates a genuine commitment to getting to the bottom of what has happened and responding to it appropriately. Weinstein has suggested that the investigation is a sign that the relevant people are taking the issue seriously.
Whilst other religious groups can easily worship in the surrounding area, there is not a Synagogue nearby for Jewish personnel to attend. Jewish soldiers were allegedly told that they had to celebrate Passover on the wrong date to have the backing of the chaplaincy.
Weinstein commented that “when you say that some of the most senior military chaplains can’t even observe Jewish faith practices because it would be offensive to their religious views, it doesn’t get much worse than that, except when you tell them that if they want the base chaplains to support Passover, they have to choose a day that isn’t Passover”.