The Aleph Military Conference and Shabbaton in Surfside, Florida, is the one time a year that Jewish military chaplains and lay leaders come together from all over the world. “It’s the Kinus Hashluchim for Jewish military members,” says Rabbi Mendy Katz of the Aleph Institute.
From Wednesday through Sunday, Aleph hosted close to 100 service-members for an extended weekend of learning—and Jewish camaraderie. “Many Jewish service-members are stationed in places where they might be the only Jew for hundreds, if not thousands, of miles,” Rabbi Katz explains. “At the Shabbaton they come together and can share their Jewish-American pride with other people who are doing the same.”
Captain Shlomo Shulman, who was deployed to Iraq, says that, “The Aleph Military Shabbaton is the highlight of the year for us Jews. It’s rare for chaplains from across the ranks and services to link up and recharge.”
By virtue of their calling, military Rabbis are in constant crisis mode. Daily, they see things that others never witness in a full lifetime. The conference provides guidance—as viewed through the prism of the Torah—for confronting the adversity encountered in the turbulent world of battle fields. Workshops discuss the ethical and moral issues confronting today’s military chaplaincy—and train them in crisis counseling, suicide prevention, and pastoral counseling.
The Shabbaton culminates with the annual Aleph Auction, a banquet event where members of Bal Harbor and surrounding communities celebrate the sacrifices made by our troops, while also helping further support Aleph’s programming and services. This year’s auction is being held tonight, this Monday evening, and features never-before-seen prizes like a Tesla, as well as community favorites like a $50,000 cash jackpot and a trip for six to Israel. Not able to come in person? An online catalog is available for around-the-globe access.
The Shabbaton is only one part of the Aleph Institute’s “Project Enduring Traditions,” which supports Jewish men and women serving in America’s armed forces. Hundreds of emails come in from military personnel thanking Aleph for their devotion to the Jews in isolated environments. Without Aleph’s holiday programs they would never be able to “feel Jewish,” and without the Words of Hope pen-pal initiative, they would never “feel appreciated” by the Jewish community. The connection to their Jewish observances, traditions, and prayers offers a sense of community and a reminder that they are always under the protection of the Al-mighty. More than that, receiving a package of matzos and seder supplies, or a pocket-sized camo book of Tehillim while stationed in places like Germany and Iraq gives them the ability to do a mitzvah, daven to Hashem, and be sustained by the knowledge that even in the uncertainty and distance of their current situation, they are not alone.
The light that Aleph brings is only possible because of your support. Every ticket that you buy in the Aleph Auction ripples through the lives of those who are lonely and far from home. Without you, Aleph cannot arrange for tefillin, prayer shawls, and meaning to arrive at the dusty tents of overseas military bases; they cannot continue to let our servicemen and women know that their service is appreciated; and without your support, they cannot continue to work by their motto, “no one alone, no one forgotten.”
To support Aleph’s important work, please visit https://aleph.auction/