Jewish religious services
will soon be offered at Fort Riley. For the first time since 1991, a Jewish
Rabbi has been stationed at the post.
Chap. (Lt.) David Gringold,
97th Military Police Battalion, arrived in early January with his wife and two
Gringold is one of only 12
Jewish Rabbis in the entire Army.
Coming from a military
family, he said one of his cousins convinced him to serve as a Rabbi for the
military, and Fort Riley will be his first duty station.
“I understood that this is
a mission that not many people are going to take up,” Gringold said about
becoming a Rabbi for the Army.
There is a great need for
Jewish Rabbis in the military, he said, because there are too many Jewish
service members for just a few Jewish chaplains to properly serve.
Prior to joining the military,
Gringold served as a civilian in Japan for three years as the overseas Rabbi
for the Jewish community.
He has been a Rabbi for
seven years – educated and ordained as an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi while in
“I want to provide Jewish
personnel with religious specific services and facilitate their needs in a way
that they normally would not get because there aren’t many of us,” Gringold
said. “(I want) to be a representative of
God and to spread teachings of morality, of love of your fellow (humankind), to
whomever I may. Generally, that won’t necessarily be people of my faith, which,
in my opinion, does not impede my mission.”
Jewish services like
Shabbat, or Sabbath, will be offered at the new chapel when it opens.
Friday evenings there will be
a Kabbalat Shabbat, or a welcoming the Sabbath service.
“It’s a very spiritually
moving service,” Gringold said.
It will involve singing,
music and a short sermon, he said. The service is expected to last about an
hour to an hour and a half.
Most Jewish services
involve food and fellowship following the service.
Sabbath day services will take
place on Saturdays. Gringold said the service should take about one to two
There is a quorum
requirement for the Sabbath services. At least 10 men, 13 years or older, must
be present to conduct the service.
If the quorum is not met, then
Bible study will take place for the Sabbath service, which will be a modified
version of the Friday night service.
“Nobody should feel
intimidated, neither Jew nor gentile, to come to the service, even if they are
not affiliated and just want to inquire,” Gringold said. “King Solomon said,
and Zachariah said, the house of God is open to all. God created everyone, and
everyone is equally welcome to serve God, but we have no intention of bringing anyone
else into our faith.”
Converting to Judaism is difficult,
Gringold explained. The Jewish community welcomes everyone, but does not seek
to grow in membership.
“Judaism is not per se a
religion, it is a belief that God, who created everyone and everything, has a
plan for everyone and everything, and when he selected a nation of priests,
that didn’t mean that he was ignoring other people. So everybody has their way
of serving God,” he said. “For the children of Israel, it is following the law
put out in the five books of Moses. For the other nations, it is living a good
and moral life.”
As a chaplain, Gringold will
be available to perform services for life-cycle events, like marriages, whether
they are Jewish marriages or not.
“I expect there will be at least
a few bar mitzvahs while I’m here,” Gringold said.
Jewish holiday services
also will be available once the new Victory Chapel opens.
Services will be open to
the public. Only a few options are available for Jewish community members
outside of Fort Riley.
“For the outside community,
we are servants; we serve the United States of America. What we are here to do,
ultimately, is to serve the American people and to worry about their best
interest,” Gringold said. “And, if sometimes you can do that in a place like
this because the Army has a need to bring in a Rabbi, and then piggybacking off
of that, we can now offer something to the American people, then that’s ultimately
the Army’s mission.”
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