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Chanukah Observed in “The Army’s Home”

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BROOKLYN, NY [CHI] — Marking his own personal victory, Chaplain 1st Lt. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Stern joined in officiating the lighting of the US Army’s Menorah at the Fort Hamilton army base in Bay Ridge. The menorah which is made out of a tanks shell casings – a special story on its own – was lit by a group of Rabbis and Chaplains.

One year ago Chaplain 1st Lt. Rabbi Sterns years of battle against army bureaucracy and its policy against facial hair resulted in victory and he was sworn in to the armed service despite his beard. He has since been extremely busy providing for the needs of the many Jewish members of the army.

Leading a Menorah lighting ceremony in the large chapel in the Bay Ridge base, which overlooks the Verrazano Bridge and the Hudson River, began with the singing of the national anthem followed by the lighting of the 105mm Tank Shell Menorah, which was light by a group of Rabbis and chaplains.

It was a true victory of light over darkness.

History of the 105mm Shell Menorah

The menorah was created by Chaplain Col. Yaakov Goldstein back in the 1980’s while serving in Grenada.

On the 13th of March 1979 the radio stations on the island country of Grenada, located in the Caribbean Sea, began broadcasting news of a revolution by Maurice Bishop and a short while late the government collapsed without much bloodshed and widespread public gatherings of support.

President Ronald Regan and his administration saw this as this as first time in the history that Marxist revolutionaries, in an English speaking county in the western hemisphere, as a dangerous precedent and were concerned that it may spread to the nearby Jamaica and other Caribbean islands.

The importance of Grenada remaining a democratic republic at the ‘shores’ of the United States prompted the Regan administration to send the army to invade the island.

Chaplain Col. Goldstein, who was serving the US forces in Grenada, was there on Chanukah in 1983, and made an unusual request from his commanding officer – to re-appropriate 8 tank shells for use as a menorah.

Goldstein explained to his CO that the main premise behind Chanukah is convert darkness into light, and change bad into good.

After Chanukah he insisted on return the Menorah to the states, since the shells – although original mundane and non-holy – once used for a holy purpose must not be discarded. The CO granted the requests, and even thanked Goldstein for allowing him to participate in the act of changed a tool of war into an item of peace. He even said that the symbolism behind the Menorah led the US’s success in Grenada.



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