Readers’ Scoop: Thank You Rabbi Berdugo [Featured Story]

berdugo_wmDear TLS,

I would like to publicly thank Rabbi Berdugo for inviting me to McGuire Airforce Base for the Yom Kippur Services. The congregation was a beautiful mixture of Jews from various different places. Some wore knitted blue and white yarmulkes, other velvet, and a few had to ask Rabbi Berdugo for a yarmulke. A number of the congregants were yidden who had served in the US army/airforce, while others were still actively serving. Despite the differences that everyone in that shul might have had we could all feel the Shechina that united us all in the service of Hashem. I was especially touched by Rabbi Berdugo’s chazzanos. He has a beautiful voice and it really added to my Yom Kippur avodah. The only thing that moved me more was when Rabbi Berdugo spoke befor Maariv of Yom Kippur. He related a story about an IDF soldier who killed his own father and became a baal teshuvua in an Israeli prison. When he recited Kaddish for his father, whom he had killed, the other frum inmates refused to answer and walked out on him. Rav Eliyashav was asked if they did the right and he answered that they should have answered to his kaddish because he had done teshuvua. The point Rabbi Berdugo brought out was that anyone can do teshuvua and it is as if he never did the sin. I also greatly appreciate the fact that I was granted the opportunity to place the US Air Force’s sefer Torah back in the Aron. Finally, I’d like to thank all the stores that sponsored the food for us to make a seuda before and after the fast. You truly enhanced the Yom Tov at McGuire Air Force base. I hope that Rabbi Berdugo invites me back next year for services and my advice to anyone in Lakewood looking for a change of shuls on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur is to see if you can get an invite from Rabbi Berdugo, a chaplain in the United States Army.

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  1. We love you Rabbi Berdugo. Most people in Lakewood have no idea how hard it is to be a chaplain in the army. My husband has been away for the last 7 months in Iraq. It requires a great amount of mesiras nefesh.

  2. Rabbi Fishel Todd of Pirchei Shoshanim also deserves a lot of credit. Rabbi Berdugo turns to him for all the Jewish functions that take place at the base.

  3. Dear Readers,

    Thank you for the nice writeup. I would like to add my personal thank you to R’ Menashe Miller for all his tireless efforts for all the Jewish programs on base. He personally took off from his busy schedule and accompanied me to solicit local businesses for their help. I would like to thank Avrumi Flam for catering all the food and for his generosity. Also Gelbsteins bakery for all the challos and cake platters that were given beshefa! And all the other sponsors which will be mentioned in the local paper be”h this week. Rabbi Todd deserves a big Yashar Koach indeed for his support and encouragement. And yes “dvarTorah” there was a super Mechitzah!
    Wishing all of Lakewood Ihr Hatorah a Zissen Yomtov!

  4. Why would anyone want to trade a seat in Ihr Hatorah for a seat in the army base? Why did Rabbi Berdugo find himself overseas for a major Yom Tov last year? Every person has a role and a place to be to fulfill that role. Not everyone can or needs to be in Lakewood. Not everyone could, wanted or needed to be at Mc Guire. There was no “trading places”.
    ( BTW, Anyone who heard Rabbi Berdugo daven knows there was no sacrifice involved in spending Yomim Noraim with the Air Base minyan. And of course there was a mechitza.)

  5. Chaim,
    Everyone has a different way to find inspiration. I personally find inspiration by helping others. There were years that the Yeshiva I attended required me to be there for the Yomim Noraim and although it was an expiriance that I do not regret, it wasn’t very inspiring. For me the most inspiring Yomim Noraim was this year when I had the oppertunity to be in McGuire AFB and for this I am extremely thankful to Rabbi Berdugo, Rabbi Bublick, Rabbi Todd and all the others who made it possible. There are others who are thankful to me for attending and the fact that among them are people who are willing to put themselves in danger so that others can live freely is what gives me the most inspiration.
    I’d reccomend for you to periodically davin in a shul that has trouble with a minyan, visit a smaller community for Shabbos, the type of community where everyone knows everyone else and 1 more person in shul makes a noticable differance.
    Spending Yomim Noraim at McGuire might not be for you, but I wouldn’t trade my seat at McGuire for any seat in Lakewood.

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