BBUK once again supports Armed Services Weekend

Armed Forces Jewish Community Leadership Weekend and Reunion 6th to 8th January 2017

Report by Alan Miller BBUK National President

Representing B’nai B’rith UK as the major sponsor of this event, Edna and I were invited to the delightful British Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre in the village of Amport, Hampshire.

The building, which dates from the 1850s, is set in exquisite gardens and can be used by every religious denomination represented in the Armed Services. However due to economic targets which have to be met by 2020, the building will eventually be sold and a cheaper venue sought.

The weekend, which was a total sell out, provides the opportunity for a great mix of personnel from all three services to come together and further their Jewish knowledge, to form relationships with others who may be serving thousands of miles away, and to feel part of an active Community which is directed by a full time Chaplain, Padre Reuben Livingstone. Those present represented a diverse cross section of our Defence Forces from those on the fighting front line to Medical Officers, Engineers working at base, Intelligence Officers and support staff, who all produced a colourful and impressive display of dress uniforms when worn at the Mess Dinner on the Saturday night.

The theme for the weekend was “Faith in the Forces, Jews serving with pride.”

Speakers introduced topics including diversity and equality within the forces and planning for the future defence of the Nation over the next twenty years. This latter topic was presented by the most senior Lt. General responsible for issues such as recruitment and retention and providing the best skill set for the envisaged future requirements.

There were several explanatory services including the Kabbalah Shabbat Friday evening service, the morning Shabbat service, where all present (regardless of gender) were given the experience of being called to the Torah for an Aliyah; Saturday evening Havdalah and on the Sunday morning a “ how to put on Tefillin” teaching session which attracted at least twenty five men and women who were all given the equal opportunity to join in. It demonstrated a thirst for knowledge with a desire to practice our traditions and beliefs within the community whilst serving in challenging and difficult conditions.

Without the financial support of B’nai B’rith UK it is unlikely that this event would take place. I hope all members can feel that encouraging a very diverse cross section of the Jewish community to come together for the benefit of all, is fulfilling one of the goals of B’nai B’rith.