CAPT Victor Steibel, USN, Ret.
Underwater for the first time on a fast attack submarine was exciting to say the least. As an observant Jew, it was also challenging. There was so much to learn about the platform, and so many halachic questions that I could not have anticipated. Which way do you face when saying the daily prayers? Can you say the prayer for the new month while looking at the moon through a periscope? I had long before prepared for issues of keeping kosher.
The first Friday I was aboard, I was checking the daily schedule to see what time sundown was so I could prepare for my first Shabbat underwater. The Skipper came by to check on me and asked what I needed. I explained and he said, “I forgot, tonight’s your sabbath, right?” We spoke for a few minutes and he became rather serious. He had learned in a class years before that Jews had certain prohibitions during their sabbath. “Is there anything we need to do this boat so that you can properly observe your rituals?”
What other nation in the world could this happen? Here is someone who can push one button and potentially destroy the world, asking how he can make this weapon of mass destruction more Shabbos-like for a lone Jew far under the sea!
Originally published in the July-August 2020 issue of the Jewish American Warrior.