Dozens of Fort Meade residents and personnel gathered at Argonne Hills Chapel Center for the weekly “Lunch with the Rabbi” and mincha Jewish prayer service Tuesday to honor the 11 victims of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh last week.
Rabbi Leonard Finkelstein, who has worked on the installation since 1970, recited prayers and lit candles for each worshipper killed in the attack, and prepared a kosher meal to share with those in attendance.
He spoke of the grief many across the world are feeling after such a tragic event, but he also spoke of forgiveness.
“God says you should love your fellow man like yourself,” Finkelstein said. “You may be thinking, ‘What if my fellow man isn’t a great person?’ But when we love our fellow man as ourselves, we’re not doing it for them. We’re really giving love to God, because all men are made in his image.
“Every time I see someone, I don’t see color. Instead, I see the image of God. And it’s my job to then give kindness to that person,” he said.
Giving kindness to others is something Finkelstein said he strives to do every day – from holding a door open for an elderly couple at the store to helping incarcerated women earn their GEDs.
That kindness can be hard to commit to when it comes to people who have wronged us, Finkelstein said, but it’s an important aspect of changing the world for the better.
“When a person dies due to anti-Semitism, it feels especially sad,” said Finkelstein, noting Jews make up only around 2 percent of the U.S. population.
But Jews are the primary victims of religious hate crimes, with 57 percent of all hate crimes committed in this country in 2017 being against Jews, according to the FBI.
“Our response [when wronged] must be that we treat everyone with love and respect, because that’s the image of God — not hate,” Finkelstein said. “There is only one person we can control, and that’s ourselves.
“Our obligation is just kindness. That’s what will change things.”
Retiree appreciation day
They came as much for the camaraderie as they did for the services offered.
More than 430 retired soldiers and their family members gathered for the 43rd Annual Fort Meade Retiree Appreciation Day Oct. 26 at McGill Training Center.
The daylong event was sponsored by the Fort Meade Retirement Services Office.
“[The event] is held to ensure retirees are receiving the most up-to-date information on their rights, benefits and privileges and to foster goodwill,” said Anna Taylor, a retirement services officer.
Taylor, who has been heading Retiree Appreciation Day for eight years, was among her own. The Severn resident served nine-and-a-half years in the Army before retiring as a sergeant.
“I just want to know retirees and their spouses are able to walk away with information as they are not shortchanged at all,” she said.
Scores Of Service Providers
Attendees filled two large rooms where about 55 diverse service providers offered information on everything from health care and insurance to substance abuse assistance.
Organizations were represented as well, ranging from military museums to the Girl Scouts, which has troops on Fort Meade, to senior citizens associations including the Retirement Services Office.
There did not seem to be a favorite table to gather. All service suppliers and organizations had a steady stream of retirees picking up brochures and asking questions.
There was also a line to get a free flu shot and health screening, provided by Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center.
After lunch at the Freedom Inn Dining Facility, attendees were welcomed by retired Col. Bert Rice, chairman of the Fort Meade Retiree Council.
Lt. Col. Allan Floyd, deputy garrison commander for transformation, provided introductory remarks.
The guest speaker was retired Lt. Col. Maria G. Bentinck, the deputy director of the Army Retirement Services Office in Crystal City near the Pentagon, who gave an update on retiree benefits.
Organizations and associations represented included Army Community Service, Anne Arundel County Department of Aging and Disabilities, Armed Forces Retirement Home, Army Emergency Relief, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, Casualty Assistance Center, Delta Dental, Digestive Disease Associates, Disabled American Veterans, Friends of the U.S. Army Women’s Museum and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Connecting And Reconnecting
“I came to get a good idea of what my options are,” said retired Sgt. 1st Class Gerald Hill, who served in the Army for 22 years. “Overall, this is a great event.”
Hill, a Baltimore resident, was holding two bags containing handouts and a small American flag.
“This [event] keeps retirees up-to-date about what’s going on,” he said. “It’s also a place to reconnect, even if you don’t know anyone personally.”
Compiled by staff of the Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs office. For more information about what is happening on Fort Meade, visit www.ftmeade.army.mil and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ftmeade.