Sunday, March 11, 2012

Is It a Question of Faith?

For many Americans living OCONUS, this is their first time. I remember my first time moving overseas. I was so nervous about moving to an entirely different country that I didn't research our move very much. I ended up thinking we were going to spend our time packed into some 500 square foot apartment with no resources. When we arrived overseas, (at that time, Yokosuka Japan) I really wished that I had done my homework. I started Googling for information about my new host country only to find a lot of dead ends. This got me motivated to help others who might have similar questions. Along with other mothers, I started a "mom" group and blogged about the "ins and outs" of living in Yokosuka (A link to this blog can be found here: . Not only did I include where to visit and "sight see" but also, where to shop for cheap food on the go, what services were available on and off base, etc.

When we found out that we were moving to Germany, I started to try and do research. I had a lot of trouble initially. Many of my online questions were met with "Oh, yeah, we have that here you'll find it when you get here." I found the "feel" here was very different too. Not bad, just different. So, I've started to try and do the same thing here that I did in Yokosuka. Our goal on this blog is to show our experiences and, along the way, help others in our situation.

One thing I've been very happy to discover is that there is an actual Rabbi Chaplain stationed at Ramstein AFB. Rabbi Gary Davidson holds Friday night Shabbat services at the Ramstein Southside Chapel. Services are at 7:00PM and a dairy/vegetarian kosher "nosh" always follows the service. For the most part, this is a "reform" style service. It's also very family friendly. Readers of our blog know that we have a 3 year old and 8 year old. There is a play room close to the Jewish Chapel room. The play room isn't close enough to leave my 3 year old all by himself, but anything less than a padded room that is locked & sound proof is not appropriate to leave my 3 year old unattended! Congregants are called upon to do readings as well (In English. Don't worry Hebrew skills will not be tested.....unless this is desired...). It's a small group and there is usually a new face every time we go. The atmosphere is open and welcoming. The Jewish Chapel is also shared/adjoined with the Muslim Chapel. There are also all types that attend Shabbat services. Families, single soldiers/airmen, Jew curious, and non-Jews, so don't feel anxious!

Just recently, we celebrated Purim. Our family and a few others dressed up. There were about 50 people that attended. (Even the base Commander and his wife!). It was truly a lot of fun and for me, has been a really fulfilling part of my experience here in Germany.

Rabbi Davidson also currently leads a Judaism 101 course and a Children's class once a month. Sometimes these classes are moved or postponed. If anyone would like further information, I highly recommend stopping by the chapel or coming to services.

As far as the Christian religions are concerned, there are a lot of choices. Not only can one find their choice of Sunday services at Ramstein, Vogelweh, Pulaski, and Landstuhl but there is also a Church located in every village (In this area of Germany many times there is a Catholic and Protestant church). There is daily Catholic mass held at the Landstuhl chapel. Ramstein's Catholic Community also has Sunday school classes. Below are links to the information I found for the local military chapels. Some of the information may be outdated. I highly recommend stopping in or calling to find out the most current information. No matter what chaplain I've run into, I've always had a positive experience and they will usually go above and beyond to be of service to anyone seeking out faith & community.

Ramstein Southside and Northside Chapel Schedul

Other Military Chapels and local Churches (This information is dated 2005. Again, be sure to call or stop by a chapel for current information!)

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