The holiday season brought me a lot of activity. First there was the delivery of care packages we get from the United Way. Laurie has managed to get Temple Beth Shalom listed as a faith-based organization willing to distribute these packages. I helped by taking them to Eglin Air Force Base and Seventh Forces Chapels to be given to the troops in the barracks.
This month, Kosher Troops and the Jewish Soldiers Project sent me several packages of food and materials for Hanukkah. These non-profit organizations solicit donations from various Jewish companies and local synagogues to put together packages they send to military bases. Unfortunately, many of the products they send tend to spoil. I found several of the products with mold. If you got anything that was moldy or stale, I do apologize. Please remember, they and I get the food and products from donations made by companies, and we distribute them hoping to bring you some happiness and good cheer. When I find anything spoiled, I do not distribute it. But the good news is most of the stuff is fine and has a significant shelf life.
I did hold a meet and greet at Eglin, but no one showed up. However, I was able to connect with six families either at Temple Beth Shalom or other locations on base. I worked with the Chaplains’ Office on Eglin to get them to put up a Hanukkah Menorah. It was at the West Gate Chapel for a few days, but it seems it was taken down for some reason.
One last thing, I am no longer the Military Jewish Lay Leader because I do not actually lead any services on base. At the bases, everyone goes home, and no one returns on Friday nights for services. However, I am now the Military Jewish Liaison for the bases and the local Jewish community. My title changed, but I’m doing the same job.
Please note my goal is to help all active-duty military members and their families, as well as military retirees, with whatever I can provide. But then, we have so many members at our synagogue who do the same.
As of 31 December, I am retiring from government service. Between serving with the Marine Corps, working as military contractor, and working in civil service, I have been serving this country for fifty years. That’s right—I’m an old fart.
The important thing to realize is being retired doesn’t mean one can’t be useful. We are so lucky because we have so many members who are retired and are still active in the community and extremely supportive of our synagogue. They bring experience, wisdom, kindness, and skills to make our community better. I, for one, intend to focus on my writing career. I have four novels in the works. And at the request of some others, I use my skills to write messages for our monthly bulletin and my military connections to help service members. We love passing on our knowledge and skills to new, as well as younger, members. Naturally we are available anytime for social events such as going out to dinner or having a few beers. The important thing to know is we may not be as quick or strong as we used to be, but we still have a lot to offer, and we will do so gladly.