The folks over at Tablet Magazine have a new piece on Rabbi Larry Bazer, who was (at the time) the only full-time Jewish chaplain in Afghanistan. It covers most of the “standard stuff”, but has a few interesting tidbits on life in Kabul and some particularly interesting stories.
One the highlights of his chaplaincy, Bazer said, was holding a bar mitzvah for a 23-year-old soldier who had missed out when he was 13. The ceremony was held on the first day of Hanukkah and was a coalescing event for the Jewish military community in Kabul. Between 35 and 40 people attended the ceremony—including the base’s non-Jewish commanding general. Half a dozen members of Congregation B’nai Kabul made the trip to Camp Phoenix in an armed convoy. The vast majority of attendants weren’t Jewish. “A lot of them thought, ‘Hey does he also need to get that little operation?’ You know, a circumcision,” Bazer recalled. “I said ‘No, he already did that’—so that was a running joke.”
When the lieutenant finished his Torah reading, Bazer gave the crowd an order that they could understand: “Fire for effect!” At that, everyone threw leftover Halloween candy at the new bar mitzvah.
Go check out the full article on their website. I’m a big fan of Tablet Magazine, and if your a fan of podcasts, you are missing out if you don’t listen to Vox Tablet, their weekly podcast.
You can also read all about LTC Bazer’s exploits at his own website: chbazer.posterous.com