US Navy Officer to Lead Passover Seder for Thousands of Crew Members Aboard Military’s Oldest Aircraft Carrier
A Jewish officer in the United States Navy is organizing a Passover seder on an aircraft carrier that has more than 5,000 crew members, Chabad.org reported on Tuesday.
Lt. Nicholas Fritzhand will lead the seder aboard the U.S.S. Nimitz, the US Navy’s oldest carrier in operation and one of the largest warships ever built.
The 33-year-old weapon-systems officer — “the backseater” in fighter jets, he explained — said that the two main obstacles he has had to overcome are the lack of a kosher kitchen and space on the ship to hold the massive event.
To tackle the first hurdle, he said, he is working to obtain all the food and other seder supplies from the Aleph Institute, a Chabad charity that provides religious, financial and emotional assistance to needy Jews in institutional environments, such as the military, the prison system and psychiatric wards.
Where the second is concerned, Lt. Fritzhand — from Cincinnati — said that he is exploring the option of having the seder “in our ready-room space or a special part of the mess deck,” as it is challenging to find a place on the carrier that is not already in use by the crew or for storing equipment.
According to Chabad.org, Lt. Fritzhand hosted a seder last year at a house near his base for some 50 members of his unit. “It was awesome sharing our history and culture and general Yiddishkeit with so many of my brothers- and sisters-in-arms,” he was quoted as saying.
Lt. Fritzhand studied Torah while attending the University of Pennsylvania, and delved into Jewish studies during his post-graduate year. He told Chabad.org that during the six years of his military service, he has tried to put on tefillin (phylacteries) and attend Friday-night services on the carrier as frequently as he is able — when he’s not flying. He said, “My time in the US Navy, and more specifically, being stationed in places without a substantial Jewish presence for the first time in my life, has given me an added appreciation of Jewishness and its role in my life.”