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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Jewish Warrior Weekend held at Texas A&M University

Cadets+and+midshipmen+from+across+the+country+learned+about+the+Corps+of+Cadets+during+their+stay+in+College+Station+for+the+Jewish+Warrior+Weekend.
Photo by Photo by Annie Lui

Cadets and midshipmen from across the country learned about the Corps of Cadets during their stay in College Station for the Jewish Warrior Weekend.

Through a weekend of fun and fellowship, Jewish cadets from all over the nation came together to create a spiritual community within the United States Military.
Texas A&M University hosted Jewish Warrior Weekend (JWW) on Feb. 2-4 which brought Jewish cades from military academies, senior military colleges and ROTC schools from all over the nation.
In addition to Lay Leader training, which teaches Jewish cadets how to lead a service when there are no clergy around, JWW included traditional Jewish services, touring Texas A&M facilities and a discussion with a Jewish film director that allowed cadets of the Jewish faith to bond and come together.
JWW began six years ago and originally consisted of only the United States Naval Academy and the United States Military Academy. A&M joined the event two years later and has been an instrumental tool helping develop the weekend’s success, according to political science junior Douglas Mendelsohn.
“We are all Jewish cadets coming together, learning about, talking about being Jews in the military,” Mendelsohn said. “We’re a minority, especially in the military. It’s important to come together and talk about this type of stuff, the issues we might see.”
In order to continue the progress within the Jewish cadets, they have come to together to focus on what they want to improve on.
“We got involved in it and we asked the question ‘Why just us,’” Mendelsohn said. “So we’ve been trying to open it up to more people and we’ve been getting better speaker line-ups and more resources.”
According to Mendelsohn, this semester’s JWW was the largest in its history, with 52 cadets in attendance. Engineering freshman Andrew Kraut serves as the communication officer and has helped to more than double attendance.
“There’s a lot of cadets that are coming from around the country that have done it before but the majority of people are actually new just because we have 50 — a lot more than we anticipated,” Kraut said. “I think last year they had 20 or so.”
Currently, there are only about 70 Jewish Lay Leaders in the U.S. Military, according to Mendelsohn. He said events such as JWW aim to help increase that number.
“Let’s say everyone at this event right now — I know that’s obviously not going to be the case — but if everyone became a Lay Leader from here, we’d almost double the amount of people,” Mendelsohn said. “That could really change Jewish life in the military”.
Brianna Karmer, political science senior from the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado, said attending Jewish Warrior weekends has helped her build relationships across military branches.
“When I’m an officer, I’ll not only know Jews in the Air Force, but also in the Navy and in the Army and in the Marines, which I think will definitely benefit me in the long run as a leader,” Karmer said.
Kraut said a common theme taken away from JWW is not only the bonds formed with other Jewish cadets, but also the importance of remembering Jewish history and practicing Jewish traditions.
“I’m really hoping to take away a few things like bonds with other Jewish military people. There’s a few here at A&M but I would love to see what it’s like to be at other ROTC schools,” Kraut said. “Learning about the history of Jews in the military is really cool to me.”
Both Kraut and Mendelsohn agreed that one of the biggest challenges Jewish military members face is the fact that they are a minority. It is important for them to come together as a community and address such issues.
“When we listen to senior officers, they tell us ‘I haven’t seen any anti-semitism,’” Mendelsohn said. “But I think it’s still important to hear people say that because you never know what’s going to happen. We’re fighting for freedom of religion and being able to practice it while we do that is important.”

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