WASHINGTON — U.S. Army Chaplain (Capt.) Menachem “Mendy” Stern and the U.S. Air Force Band participated in the annual lighting ceremony of the National Chanukah Menorah, on the White House Ellipse Nov. 28, 2021.
This lighting of one of the world’s largest menorahs is viewed by millions across the nation and around the world. This was the second year Stern had been invited to represent military chaplains at the event.
“This event is the symbol of Judaism and freedom coming hand in hand. The menorah being lit [signifies] the symbol of freedom on the people’s lawn,” said Stern. “Attending an event like this…builds a warm connection in the National Capital Region between the Troops and the community.”
As one of only 13 active-duty Jewish chaplains in the Army, Stern is one of seven Army Chaplains assigned to Arlington National Cemetery to conduct military funerals.
“My specific role is to conduct the funerals of Jewish Soldiers, Veterans and their families. In my additional duty, I serve as the Operations Chaplain in the Army Chaplains’ Office, managing the day-to-day operations for the Army Chaplains assigned to Arlington National Cemetery. Additionally, I serve as the Jewish Army Chaplain for the U.S. Army Military District of Washington, which includes facilitating religious services and support for Jewish troops across the National Capital Region,” said Stern, who has officiated more than 55 funerals.
Stern is responsible for leading the military Jewish community, teaching classes, holiday programs and adult education; but he’s also strengthened connections with community leaders outside the gate, meeting and engaging with local Rabbis and the Jewish community.
Originally, from Israel, Stern’s family immigrated to the U.S. when he was 13 years old. He commissioned into the Army Nov. 23, 2011, in New York. Prior to joining the service, Stern was seeking an opportunity to serve in public service as a Rabbi or other public service until his brother told him about an open house where the Army was recruiting Rabbis. He went on to serve in New York, Texas, South Korea and Afghanistan before coming to the National Capital Region.
“My only regret is that, I entered at the age of 29,” said Stern. “If I would have known about the Army at 19, I would have joined sooner.”
He says he is humbled to pursue both his callings at once, serving “God and Country”.
“Serving at the National Capital Region is an honor I’ve never dreamed about. I’m humbled to have been selected for this prestigious position and hope to carry out the mission as expected,” said Stern.