Tuesday, December 20, 2011

On Being Jewish in the Air Force

It was about my fourth day in the Air Force. We were marched into a movie theater along with two or three other flights. (Flight - a group of airmen, sort of like a platoon in the Army.)  We were marched in formation wherever we went. 

We were told that we were going to get our religious orientation.  An officer got up on stage and made an announcement: "All you Catholics - join me on the left." About a quarter of the audience got up and moved to the side and gathered around the officer, who I later learned was the Catholic chaplain. 

"All you Mormons, join me" and about a dozen airmen gathered around the Mormon chaplain. They then went through the litany of the other Christian denominations, gathering groups of airmen  around their chaplain.

I looked around. I was sitting in the audience all alone. "Airman, what are you?" "I'm Jewish, sergeant." "Wait right there."  The sergeant ran off to the side of the theater, and picked up the phone. I heard him say "Rabbi, you got one this time."

Welcome to the Air Force.

By the way - in spite of a few stupid jokes, which I replied to in kind, I never experienced any anti-semitism in four years in the Air Force. 

Happy Chanukah to all of my Jewish friends.

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