Story by Lt. Brendan Good

SOUTH CHINA SEA – Sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) observed Passover with a traditional seder in the wardroom, April 25.

Despite being more than 10,000 miles from their families, Sailors sought to create a sense of community.

At the dinner, the seder plate took center stage, as the ship’s Supply Department and other organizations combined to provide matzah, horse radish, hardboiled eggs along with other required items. Sailors followed the same guidance as Jewish people around the world, retelling the story of slavery in Egypt, the ten plagues and exodus towards the Promised Land.
The event was open to the entire crew, as the holiday provides an opportunity to build a community around their common religion and culture.

Each Sailor has family at home who was practicing similar rituals. On the ship, Sailors continued the tradition of their ancestors by joining in with the Jewish community around the world in celebration of this event.

“I felt like I was at home, like a little kid again, back at the table,” said Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Mitchell Dubin, from Sarasota, Fla. “We dress up in nice clothes and get together at the grandparent’s house, eat until we can’t move anymore, drink wine, be merry. There’s a reason it’s a two-hour ceremony.”

Many pieces of Sailors’ daily lives on an aircraft carrier are out of the ordinary, uncertain or high stress. One way to propagate a sense of normalcy is to carry on traditions and observe religious rituals as part of their busy weekly routine.

“It was great to get away from the everyday business and bustle of work down in the [propulsion] plant,” said Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class Andrew Pluss, from Denver. “It felt amazing getting back to my religion and celebrating a happy, yet sad, holiday that just brings me back home. Being able to do this on the ship provides that opportunity.”

The Jewish calendar is replete with holidays, remembrances and celebrations; one of the most significant is Passover. Like many religions, Judaism holds tradition paramount. This is why each Friday evening, the Jewish Sabbath, a group of Sailors from around the ship gathers together in the chapel. This simple observance is often enough to return Sailors to a positive frame of mind, reminding them of the importance of stepping back from looming deadlines or upcoming inspections, to practice their religion.

“Every Friday night at [6:oo p.m.] we have services in the chapel,” said Dubin. “I wish we did this every night. It brought us together for something very familiar and I am thankful for everyone involved who made it possible.”
Providing a ready force supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, John C. Stennis is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled 7th Fleet deployment.
For more news on USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) visit http://navy.mil/local/cvn74/ or http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

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