web analytics
December 25, 2014 / 3 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

In the Army Now: An Orthodox Jew’s US Army Experience

It is vital for religious Jews of all ages to be involved in public service in some form or another.
U.S. Navy Lt. Joshua Sherwin, second from left, a Jewish chaplain deployed with II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), sings the final hymn and recites the final blessing prior to breaking bread and sharing wine in fellowship with worshippers attending a Yom Kippur service Oct. 8, 2011, at Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

U.S. Navy Lt. Joshua Sherwin, second from left, a Jewish chaplain deployed with II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), sings the final hymn and recites the final blessing prior to breaking bread and sharing wine in fellowship with worshippers attending a Yom Kippur service Oct. 8, 2011, at Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Photo Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gino Flores/Released

The call from the Department of the Army came to me on a random day in the summer of 2012, an unexpected offer to serve our country as an Army civilian. The opportunity presented to me that afternoon had all the perks that any young professional would dream of: on the job training, continuing education, mentorship and apprenticeship in addition to job stability and security with lifelong benefits and opportunity for job growth with the federal government. The catch, however, would be a commitment of two years of public service to our military – anywhere in the world.

The offer came from the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs, known within the Army as OCPA. Headquartered in Washington D.C., OCPA is the United States Army command responsible for explaining and justifying the intricacies of the army to the public. OCPA fulfills the army’s obligation to keep the American people and the army informed. The job is not an easy one. One must explain and balance the intricacies of the United States Army while protecting national security interests. Upon learning more about the position and its responsibilities, I began to realize what an honor and privilege it would be to join a group of unique individuals who undertake such a complex mandate with integrity and pride. Who was I to turn down such an offer?

The average young professional fresh out of graduate school with limited job experience, especially in today’s economy, would more than likely not think twice of accepting this job offer. I however, as an Orthodox Jew, had to think twice about it. Once I realized I would be fulfilling my lifelong dream of public service to my country, which has given so much to me, my family and community, I graciously accepted the Army’s offer, a decision I will never regret.

At the time of the offer, I was living on New Yorks’ Upper West Side; a bastion of Modern Orthodoxy and the place to live if you are young, single, and Jewish. At the time I was working for a Jewish not-for-profit where I gained valuable work skills, but yearned for higher job growth. I was told by OCPA officials told me I would have to leave New York as the initial assignment by would be in Philadelphia with later assignments in Maryland and Washington, D.C. Upon completion of my training I would be assigned to a yet to be determined location based on the needs of the U.S. Army. Not originally being from New York, I welcomed the opportunity to move back home to Philadelphia, where I was born and raised. While many would probably hesitate to move multiple times over two years, I saw it as a unique chance to live in and explore other cities while serving the needs of our country.

AS I BEGAN WORK at the Department of Army, I quickly came to realize, just as I had realized previously, when I was interning at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, just how few Orthodox Jewish people there are working for our federal government. This is especially apparent in national security agencies like Defense, Homeland Security and State. As a student in Yeshiva University, I remember being encouraged to understand political developments and realities via working through the dozens of Jewish organizations that exist, but never to help shape policy decisions directly from inside the government. Why is there such apathy within our community towards participating and working within our government? Here is a thought: Perhaps, relationships and trust are fostered from within, not without?

There is, I believe, an unspoken fear by many Orthodox Jewish people that leaving their communities would mean risking the loss of their Jewish identity and potentially losing their religious observance. I can tell you from personal experience this fear has no basis. I have found that since taking on my new role, quite the opposite has occurred. If one has been empowered with a tightly rooted Jewish identity by family, school and community, working then in the secular realm, in a country that allows freedom of religion, should assuage any fears of alienation.

My Jewish identity has been strengthened in my new career and I have not changed who I am and what I believe nor been swayed by anyone. The non-Jewish community, and in particular, the military community, has treated me as an equal and has welcomed me into their ranks. I am respected for who I am and what I believe in. Since many of my co-workers have not worked with Orthodox Jews in the past, I am many times seen more as a curiosity. I am asked many questions about my practices simply because most people are unaware of what we believe and why we practice the way we do. I find it sad that many members of our community have isolated themselves to the point where we are aware of our secular neighbors, yet they know nothing about us. How can we in this country create unity and religious tolerance if we refuse to proudly show who we are?

For me, working for the U.S. Army is much more than just a paycheck. In addition to an exciting and fulfilling career, my job is filling what I consider to be a real void within the Orthodox Jewish community. The federal government invests a significant amount of money into training individuals for fellowships and internships in all branches of the government with the promise for enriching and rewarding careers. But by and large, the government does not go to Orthodox Jewish colleges such as Touro and Y.U. to recruit new talent. This is largely in part because our community does not show an active interest in partaking in public service.

It is vital for religious Jews of all ages to be involved in public service in some form or another. Yet the numbers of those opting to pursue professional career paths in this field are embarrassingly low. I believe and hope that by educating my peers in the Orthodox community I can show them one is capable of working in a government position while maintaining their religious practices.

About the Author: Dovi Meles holds a masters degree in social work from Temple University and a BA in Psychology from Yeshiva University. He has held numerous positions within Jewish non-profit organizations. In his current position, he works for the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs at the United States Army. He can be reached at admeles@gmail.com


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “In the Army Now: An Orthodox Jew’s US Army Experience”

  1. Rachel Cohen says:

    I definitely agree. my brother is in the us airforce and it is very enriching experience besides he has multiple opportunities to make a kiddush Emounah Hashem.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The 13th issue of Al Qaeda's 'Inspire' online English-language magazine.
Al Qaeda Urges ‘Lone Wolves’ via Magazine to Attack US Airliners
Latest Indepth Stories
The New York Police Department has announced increased coverage of NYC synagogues.

Girlfriend and double cop-killer Ismaaiyl Brinsley apparently was influenced by Islamic extremism.

Thus, despite the increasingly serious problems for the mayor arising out of the current anti-police protests, Mr. de Blasio apparently will be cut no slack by those who seem to be aiming for a significant role in running the city from the streets and who will do whatever they can to prevent their momentum from ebbing.

Also left unsaid was the fact that the menorah and its oil were in the Beit HaMikdash, which of course was located on Har HaBayit – the Temple Mount that present-day Muslims claim as their own.

Despite strong pressure to throw the book at the accused, Mr. Thompson allowed him to plead guilty to assault.

A revolution is taking place between good and evil; light and darkness. Make the light activism!

We see pictures of mosques, monuments for terrorists, illegal schools, and hundreds of apartments being built on Jewish land without repercussions. We are losing Jewish property, so it is up to us to protect it.

Obama’s comments calling Israeli settlements “unhelpful”are harsher than prior US administrations’

He ruthlessly crushed the revolt, and, despite lacking official Roman sanction, ordered the rebel leaders put to death without trial.

Hamas recently stated publicly that a new explosion of violence against Israel is imminent.

We can never allow Israel in the name of democracy to turn herself into an Arab or bi-nationalstate

The Jordanian public is a fertile ground of anger that could be easily exploited by ISIS.

How can “Fame” help bring Moshiach?

Let us become modern day Maccabees and seize the day. Embrace the challenge. Fight for Hashem.

Har HaBayit is still Biyadein; Through our actions, its fate is in our hands

More Articles from Dovi Meles
U.S. Navy Lt. Joshua Sherwin, second from left, a Jewish chaplain deployed with II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), sings the final hymn and recites the final blessing prior to breaking bread and sharing wine in fellowship with worshippers attending a Yom Kippur service Oct. 8, 2011, at Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

It is vital for religious Jews of all ages to be involved in public service in some form or another.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/in-the-army-now-an-orthodox-jews-us-army-experience/2013/01/15/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: