Rabbi finds faith fulfilling
November 23, 2011
One of Fort Belvoir's newest chaplains found her way to spiritual leadership as a way to serve Soldiers of all faiths.
Chaplain (Capt.) Heather Borshof grew up in a home where religion was important but not strictly observed, however, through an extended, more observant family, she found herself more committed as she immersed herself in all of the Jewish religion's rich traditions.
The Central New Jersey native became involved with youth groups when she got older, eventually helping to lead services at the synagogue.
"I realized how much I enjoyed being a part of the Jewish community and gradually realized that becoming a rabbi allowed me to encompass Judaism into my whole life," said Borshof.
Her decision to join the Army as a rabbi came about as a need to give something back to those who serve our country, and risk their lives so that we can live in a country of freedom.
"In Israel, every person, male and female, serves in the Israeli Defense Force. Visiting Israel, being a witness to this gave me an appreciation for the military and those who serve their country," she said.
As an Army chaplain she serves Soldiers of all faiths, helping them resolve problems and talk about concerns. She relishes the challenges and opportunity to work with so many different and wonderful groups of people, while also being able to live and practice her love for Judaism.
She helps Soldiers and Families deal with challenges by reminding people that nothing in life is permanent and they have the ability to look forward to that which we desire.
"We often have the power to make changes in our lives," Borshof said. "I encourage Soldiers to remember the good things they have, and that which they value in life. It can be helpful to know when we are going through a difficult time, that there is a tomorrow, and tomorrow might just be better than today."
Her goal as a rabbi is to serve the Jewish community.
"Serving the Jewish community in the military is different than serving the Jewish community in a congregation in New York City. But no matter where I am, my goal and my hope is that I can bring Judaism in the best way possible to those I am serving," said Borshof.
Borshof finds Judaism scriptures and traditions exciting and sometimes demanding.
"I love teaching about what Judaism has to offer and the fact that while we have our rituals and customs, we are a people who are known to challenge and question," Borshof said. "I am a Reform Jew, part of a denomination that recognizes that Judaism is a living religion, one that changes and allows for innovation while also keeping many of the traditions alive."
While accepting the Torah as the foundation of Jewish life the Reform Jews see it as living document that enables them to confront the challenges of our everyday lives. Jewish communities are known as being close knit and very supportive to each other. Borshof believes that one of the things that make the Jewish community so strong is knowing that, "We are so small and that if 'we' don't work to make it happen, nobody else will."
Helping and encouraging Soldiers to find solutions to Family, medical, or just everyday problems comes from the altruism within her and her ability to work with everyone in any situation. She credits working as a waitress with helping her hone her people skills.
When she can't be found helping Soldiers Borshof uses her down time for walks, reading, and chess.