Sunday, March 30, 2008

Guest Posting By A Yid In Iraq - My Purim Experience

I have been in Iraq now since December 2007 and I will be leaving in March 2009. It is not getting any easier since the heat is starting to cap out at 100 degrees at 12:00 in the afternoon. Attacks on coalition forces are not letting up either. As a matter of fact they are getting worse, turn on CNN if you want to see what I am talking about.

I believe everything comes from Hashem and I have had two experiences when I was going to leave for a combat logistical patrol that confirmed this belief in my mind. On both occasions, I had a strong feeling as if I was being told not to go and there was going to be mortar attack on the route. The first time I did not go on the patrol and as soon as the patrol left, they we mortared and they had to go the bomb shelter on the other forward operating base were they were to pick up supplies. They had to wait for six hours in the bomb shelter to all clear was called. On the second occasion, I did not listen to this feeling and soon as I was stepping in the vehicle, mortars started to hit the route that we were going to travel on. I went and immediately davened and thanked Hashem for warning me.

A couple days before Purim, I was walking from our barracks and had three mortars land 150 to 200 meters in front me. I felt the ground shake. I just shook my head since it was only 0900, and thought to myself that it was not such a good way to start the day off. I thanked Hashem that these terrorists aim was off that morning.

Despite all of this, I had an outstanding Purim. It really made think of how our people are always being targeted and the strength our forefathers how they had to persevere in hard times. I had a vegetable kosher MRE (meal ready to eat), crackers, pomegranate juice (POM), and some dried mangos for dessert. It really hit the spot. I did not get to hear the Megillah, but I did read it. Haman's descendants were also present with me on Purim and they fired three mortar rounds into our forward operating base. Luckily no one was hurt. I know this sounds cynical but I am use to it now, at first I was a little nerve racked about it but I got use to it.

Regardless of where you are, you can still perform a mitzvah in any situation. On a daily basis I am assisting these war torn Arabs with food and water and trying speak English better. Today, I received a complement that I am the first Jew they have seen and I am representing my people well. That felt really good to hear, and I told him there are good people in all groups.

I always do my best to keep my head covered out of respect of Hashem and also because I want everyone to see that there is a Jew assisting them - so there is no confusion on who I am and what I represent. I also do not want to be confused with one of the Gentile soldiers.

The reason I am writing to the world is that as a Jewish soldier I want our people of Israel to be proud!

My intent behind all of this is I want to break the stereotype of Jews. A lot of times Jews are not presented correctly as if we are weaker or softer than other groups especially in the military. We are a nation of holy people, we are also warriors and we all have a fighting spirit!

I am very excited because next month is Pesach, I have put in a request for two days off to travel to another base where a rabbi will be leading a seder.

G-d willing, things will go as planned.


At March 30, 2008 at 2:06:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences with us and giving each of US chizuch. In a difficult environment and under extreme conditions your are indeed a light unto the nations.

Please keep in touch and advise if there is anything we can do for you beyond davening for your safety.



At March 30, 2008 at 5:25:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

G-d bless you always and protect you.
Todah Rabah,

At March 31, 2008 at 11:25:00 AM EDT, Blogger Freddie said...

“Today, I received a complement that I am the first Jew they have seen and I am representing my people well.”

Wow! This is such an important mitzvah. Keep up the good work.
May G-d continue to bless and protect you.


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