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U.S. Army base adds kosher food, Jewish chaplain

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — A major U.S. Army base has added kosher food and a rabbi-chaplain after a Jewish soldier was beaten.

The move at Fort Benning, near Columbus, Ga., comes after 20-year-old Pvt. Michael Handman suffered a concussion when a fellow soldier beat him during basic training last fall, according to an article Friday in Army Times. 

Handman’s parents told Army officials that their son had complained to them about religious discrimination even before the beating.

The soldier accused of the beating was discharged from the service. Two drill sergeants were disciplined, one of whom told Handman to remove his yarmulke in a dining hall. The other allegedly had called him "Juden," German for Jewish.

Since that incident, Fort Benning has instituted religious diversity classes for its drill sergeants and two weeks ago added a rabbi as its full-time Jewish chaplain. Kosher MREs, pre-packaged meals ready to eat, are now available in the mess hall, and the base will hold services for the Sabbath and the High Holidays instead of busing Jewish soldiers to a nearby synagogue.

About 25,000 trainees come to Fort Benning each year. Base spokesmen say about 20 at any one time are Jewish.
 

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