Kinus Hashluchim brings together rabbis from numerous walks of life, but who would believe that it would also bring together numerous ranks of the military?
With soldiers arm wrestling in the back, and saluting at the front, one would have been forgiven for mistaking the wooden desks and bright lights of a classroom at Yeshivas Oholei Torah, Crown Heights, for military barracks on the evening of November 21st, where COLlive welcomed rabbis from the US Civil Guard.
The group is headed by Rabbi Zalman Lipskier – the first Jewish chaplain in Georgia’s military history, which, amongst its many roles, supports and reaches out to Jews serving in the US Armed forces.
The Aleph Institute, founded in 1981 by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, fought against Army regulation 670-1, which states: “Beards are not authorized,” and “exceptions or accommodations based on religious practice will not be granted,” prohibiting Orthodox Jews to follow their minhagim of not trimming their facial hair.
Lipskier was first granted special permission to keep his beard in February of this year, and Commanding General Michael McGuinn said “It’s a matter of having authentic Jewish representation in the Defense Force, or not.”
Since this time, Aleph says that, with their help, 6 other bearded
Jews have followed Rabbi Lipskier into the fold, with more to follow.