Rabbi Aaron returns to Terre Haute for Veterans Day, celebrates ‘the everyday American’

Veterans Day holds special significance for Student Rabbi and U.S. Army Capt. Aaron Rozovsky, who served United Hebrew Congregation Terre Haute during the 2016-17 academic year.

Aaron, who has completed deployments in Cuba and Afghanistan, filled the Westminster Village community room last year for a special Veterans Day Shabbat service.

The event’s success invited a repeat performance, and Aaron returned this Veterans Day, in fatigues and camouflage yarmulke, to celebrate Shabbat with the retirement community and guests.

“I’ve been singing Terre Haute’s praises. Hopefully, tourism has gone up!” Aaron told his welcoming audience.

Aaron also took the opportunity to re-connect with his former congregation and conduct evening Shabbat services at Temple Israel. He recently completed two weeks’ active duty in South Carolina and is in his final year at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati.

“I’ve been singing Terre Haute’s praises. Hopefully, tourism has gone up!” Aaron told his welcoming audience.

The warning of Kristallnacht

Veterans Day, November 11, follows the anniversary of another solemn event that holds great meaning for the Jewish people and significantly shaped Aaron’s future.

“This time of year means a lot to me,” he said. “It’s Kristallnacht [November 9-10, 1938, when Nazi Germany erupted in violence against Jews]. And one reason I put on the uniform is because I didn’t want there to be any more Kristallnachts in the world.”

“One reason I put on the uniform is because I didn’t want there to be any more Kristallnachts in the world.”

Any good rabbi seizes the opportunity to teach a lesson, and for his sermons at Westminster and UHC, Aaron found parallels between the Americans who exemplify Veterans Day and the subjects of the week’s parsha, or Torah portion.

Abraham’s unnamed servant made the world a better place

Genesis 23:1-25:18 tells the story of Abraham’s unnamed servant whom Abraham tasks to find a wife for his son Isaac, thus determining the future of the Jewish people.

The men and women of America’s armed services are much like that unnamed servant, Aaron said, as are citizens who overcome obstacles large and small to live productive lives.

“My heroes are the everyday. My heroes are the people who don’t get a lot of recognition. Obviously, my heroes are my fellow soldiers.

“My heroes are the people who don’t get a lot of recognition.”

“Who from sunup to sundown actually ensures the continuance of our country and its many blessings? At the end of the day, it is the American soldier, sailor, Marine, airman and Coast Guardsman.

“The reason these brave men and women are unknown is because they are us. They are you and me. They are the everyday American.

“If we want an example in this parsha, all of us are this nameless servant. America and the Jewish people are defined by these everyday people who do incredible things.

“It doesn’t matter if our names get in the paper. We move the ball forward. We make our country better. We make our people better. We make the earth a better place by doing great things.”

Aaron concluded the Westminster event with the hymn Oseh Shalom:

“He who makes peace in the high heights of heaven make peace unto us and to all Israel, to all the world. Let us say, Amen.”

Photos

Rabbi Aaron visits with residents and guests following a Veterans Day Shabbat at Westminster Village. In the first set of images, Aaron poses with UHC members and military veterans (from left) Julius Loeser, Dick Frank, Steve Silver and Walter Sommers.

The Westminster Village lobby displays photos of resident veterans, including UHC member Walter Sommers, along with a collection of soup cans.

The Memorial Walkway is decorated for Veterans Day with American flags.

Shabbat at Temple Israel

Rabbi Aaron conducts the kiddush and hamotzi following evening services, and UHC members enjoy a Veterans Day oneg, with holiday decorations by UHC Secretary Norma Collins.

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