By Sam Yudin, Post 786 Commander
On November 16th, Shir Ha-Ma’alot in Irvine, CA showed their appreciation for their community’s veterans at their Friday night Shabbat services. They held a special service called, “Shabbat Service: Honor Those Who Protect Us.” It was a small event that had a major impact for those service members and veterans in attendance.
Mike Heineman was also there to give a speech about Jewish experiences in the Air Force. He served as an instructor pilot in the Euro NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program, an F-15E combat pilot, and, after graduating from the US Air Force Test Pilot School in 2014, an F-15 and A-29 test pilot. Mike completed his service in July 2017, and he now works as an engineer at SpaceX.
After Mike’s speech, Veterans in the audience were called on the bimah one by one to be recognized by the entire congregation. The event was made more special when we were able to Facetime with Major (MAJ) Howard Medina, who is currently deployed to Afghanistan. MAJ Medina Major Medina’s family along with the entire congregation was able to view him on a large screen
as they conversed.
Major Medina is a California National Guard Soldier assigned to the 40th Infantry Division, and he is a new member of JWV Tibor Rubin Post #786. Major Medina is an intelligence officer in the California National Guard assigned to 40th Infantry Division G2 based at Joint Forces Training Base Los Alamitos, CA. He has been deployed to Kosovo, Guantanamo Bay, and now Afghanistan. On those deployments he has acted as a lay leader conducting Jewish services. He grew up in Torrance and lives in Irvine. His wife Debbie and three boys Sam (10), Joseph (6) and Adam (6) miss him and can’t wait for him to return.
The Medinas have been members of Shir Ha-Ma’a lot for 10 years. Rabbi Steinberg and Rabbi DePaulo have been in contact with MAJ Media through email checking up with him and the Rabbi’s assistant had called Debbie and asked if we can make it possible to FaceTime with him on that night.
Events like the Shir Hamalot Shabbat Service show the Jewish community that Jewish soldiers are still serving on the front lines in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Here in Orange County, we are working to make Orange County a military-friendly community for our Jewish veterans and service members.
Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018