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December 14, 1990 - Image 34

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-12-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

GULF

CRISIS

YEAR END
CLEARANCE

ALL '90 FURS AND LEATHERS
MUST BE SOLD

REDUCTIONS FROM

40 % to 60

Many Items
At Cost
or Below

Keeping Kosher,
Over There

Whether a soldier can observe
kashrut in Saudi Arabia depends
on whom he asks.

JAY LECHTMAN

Special to The Jewish News

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t. Cmdr. Victor Stiebel
keeps a duffel bag
packed in his
Baltimore home. He's ready
physically, if not mentally,
to leave for Saudi Arabia
with a day's notice.
The 32-year-old Navy doc-
tor hopes "there is room in
my bag for my tallis and
tefillin," he said.
He also hopes that enough
space exists within the ex-
traordinary strictures of
Operation Desert Shield for
kashrut-observant ser-
vicemen.
At Bethesda Naval
Hospital, near the Jewish
communities of Washington
and Baltimore, Dr. Stiebel
has no trouble keeping
kosher as an active-duty
serviceman.
Should he be shipped out,
however, he and other Jew-
ish servicemen in the United
States worry about their
ability to observe this tenet
of Jewish law while serving
in a military that doesn't of-
ficially provide for them, and
in an Islamic nation in-
tolerant of other faiths.
The Defense Department
doesn't provide kosher
alternatives to its standard
military rations, called
Meals-Ready-to-Eat, or
MREs. But the military does
allow servicemen to provide
for their own "separate ra-
tions," said Lt. Col. Rick
Oborn, a department
spokesman.
"The bottom line, in terms
of Department of Defense
regulations, is that we're not
going to do anything special
for a small number of peo-
ple," he said.
However, according to offi-
cials with the U.S. military
overseas, kosher basic
staples can be provided for
Jewish servicemen in the
Persian Gulf through its
own food service operations,
if they are requested
through a chaplain or food
service officer, said Col.
David Peterson, head of
chaplains for the military's
central command in Riyadh,
Saudi Arabia.
So far, no Jewish per-
sonnel have requested

kosher rations, apart from
High Holy Day meals and
"other times when they have
wanted to keep kosher for
special occasions," Col.
Peterson said in a telephone
interview from Riyadh. "If
we do have a serviceman
who wants to keep kosher
100 percent of the time,
however, we can do it."
Furthermore, "anytime we
want extra, we can get spe-
cial kosher food from the
JWB (Jewish Chaplain's
Council of the Jewish Com-
munity Centers Association
of North America), when we
request it," he said.
The chaplain's council is
the U.S. government-
accredited agency oversee-
ing the religious and spiri-
tual needs of Jewish
military personnel.
"There is no problem with
active-duty servicemen,"
said David Lapp, the coun-
cil's director, adding that
only Jewish reservists at
home have expressed con-
cern over keeping kosher in
Saudi Arabia.
But Dr. Stiebel, who has
raised concerns about the
ability to keep kosher in the
desert, is on active-duty with
the Navy.
After discussing the needs
of Jewish servicemen with
representatives of the U.S.
military Chief of Chaplain's
office in Washington, Rabbi
Lapp believes those concerns
to be unfounded, he said.
The JWB is expecting a
Jewish chaplain's report on
the status of Jewish ser-
vicemen in the Persian Gulf
shortly, Rabbi Lapp said.
Additionally, he asserted
that vegetarian portions of
the 1VIREs would be accep-
table to kashrut-observant
soldiers, even if they don't
"taste like something you're
going to buy in Lou
Siegel's," a kosher restau-
rant in New York City, he
said.
Despite these assurances,
Dr. Stiebel and others re-
main skeptical.
The military and the
Chaplain's Council have
given contradictory and
often confusing messages
about the ability to keep
kosher in Saudi Arabia, they
say, and several have taken
the matter into their own

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