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‘Twas the Chanukah of 2019. CH Andrew Shulman, Renee Favor, Ray Rudd, Dorit Attias, and I were partying it up in Camp Arifjan. We were spinning dreidels and lighting chanukiahs that ⁨Sara Fuerst had sent us from Kosher Troops. After we finished eating all the latkes that Renee had made, I announced that I needed to take three boxes of supplies for “field trips” that I was taking the next few days.

Rabbi Shulman, like myself, was a battlefield tourist. I announced that over the next three days, I would be visiting Bahrain, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. At each location, I needed an excuse to justify getting on the C-12 and/or Blackhawk. I told my boss that I would be delivering Chanukah supplies to Jews across the AO.

On the third day, when I visited Saudi Arabia, we landed at an undisclosed FOB. I got off the helicopter (of which I was part of the flight crew) and walked up to the first Soldier I saw. It was a Major. “Good afternoon, sir. Can you point me in the direction of the Chaplain?” He told me, “There isn’t one on this small FOB.” I asked, “Do you know of any Jews on this FOB?” Then I looked at his name—and voila! Let’s just say, it had “stein” in it. It was Hashem’s will. I got off the helicopter and just happened to find the only other Jew in the entire kingdom! He and I lit Chanukah candles together—probably the first time Chanukah candles were lit there since Operation Flying Carpet.

A few minutes later I got back on the helicopter. As we were about to take off, I heard over the radio that due to a paperwork mixup, we were not authorized to fly back across the border into Kuwait. This was a problem because I hadn’t finished my battle handoff with my replacement (still at Camp AJ) and if I didn’t make it back that evening, I was going to have some explaining to do when I got back. I said Shema and asked Hashem to get us back to Kuwait safely that night. A few minutes later, I heard over the radio that we were cleared for departure.

We made it back to Camp AJ with no issues that night… other than the fact that ⁨Chaplain Shulman was very jealous that he couldn’t tag along for the adventure.

Originally published in the Chanukah/Purim 5784 issue of the Jewish American Warrior.