Friday, September 26, 2003

Synagogue helping troops celebrate

By Karen Vance
Enquirer contributor

AMBERLEY VILLAGE _ Hundreds of U.S. soldiers abroad will celebrate Jewish High Holy Days with proper prayer books, thanks to a local synagogue.

The Jewish New Year is a time for introspection, looking at past mistakes and making changes.

The holiday is marked with the sounding of the shofar, a ram's horn, and the eating of apples dipped in honey, a symbol of sweet wishes for the new year.

Another practice is the Tashlikh, the casting of crumbs into a nearby body of water, to symbolize the casting off of sins.

Adath Israel in Amberley Village donated the prayer books, known as Mahzors, to be used by Jewish troops serving in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan for Rosh Hashanah, which starts at sundown today, and Yom Kippur, which begins on Oct. 5.

Diane Kabakoff, a member of the congregation, hopes her husband serving in Iraq, Maj. Alan Kabakoff, will have the opportunity to celebrate the holiday.

"We'll just be thinking of him," Diane Kabakoff said of her family. "Holidays are hard when family members are abroad. But I know he'll take a little bit of time out."

Maj. Kabakoff, a full-time Silverton police officer, is one of 129,000 national guardsmen and reservists who have been called abroad or are serving in Homeland Security posts.

Diane said her husband was pleased to hear about the donation and is grateful for the letters of support he's received from their congregation.

Before being shipped abroad, the prayer books were sitting in the basement of the synagogue. Then the congregation's administrator, Rob Festenstein, learned there was a need for them through an e-mail listserv in which he participates.

Lt. Col. Mitchell Ackerson, a rabbi chaplain in the Army Reserves, said he anticipated about 400 Jewish soldiers might take part in services and holiday meals in Iraq, and was looking for about 500 Silverman High Holy Day Mahzors. Adath Israel had close to 2,000 of the books.

"It's very different from the regular prayer book. It has different concepts and themes for the High Holy days," Festenstein said. "Hopefully, (the prayer books) will also have a use in peacetime as well as war."

Rabbi Irvin Wise of Adath Israel said most of the prayers in the books talk about looking forward to a year of well-being and health.

"And nearly every prayer ends with hope for peace," Wise said. "It's my hope that this will bring them hope, strength and peace, help them in this time away from their families and bring them comfort."


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