CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait — Soldiers deployed with the 3rd Medical Command, 1st Theater Sustainment Command, celebrated the second day of Hanukkah here, Nov. 29, 2021, by saying a prayer, lighting candles on hanukkiahs, singing traditional Yiddish songs, and spending time in fellowship with members of the community.
Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day holiday that reaffirms the paragons of Judaism. The holiday is most known for the tradition of lighting candles on a nine-branched candelabrum called a hanukkiah, or menorah.
Spc. Armon Chaim, a biomedical equipment specialist, and Maj. George E. Milevich, a pharmacist, each said they were grateful to celebrate Hanukkah here since they are not home to share the holiday with their families.
“Usually in my Army career I was the only Jew in my unit, and so I didn’t expect to have all this,” said Chaim. “I send pictures home to my family and they’re even enjoying it as much as I am, because in the Jewish faith to see others’ happiness is a great thing.”
Chaim, a native of Las Vegas, Nevada, said his family has a large hanukkiah that they place in front of the window each year.
“The point of that is to share the light that comes from here,” the specialist said. “The light is not for you, it’s for everyone else, so it’s nice to share with so many other people here.”
Chaim said his favorite memory of the holiday is of his daughter, Maya, now 19.
“When she was like 3, she found the chocolate money and she hid it and ate it all that night—the night before the first night of Hanukkah,” he said, laughing.
The gold foil-wrapped chocolates he had purchased were to be used during a traditional dreidel game over the course of the holiday, but they had to go without that year.
Milevich, a native of Rochester, New York, said he is also thinking about memories he’s made with his family in years past.
“I usually celebrate the holiday with my children,” the major said. “This year, obviously being deployed, I can’t do that.
“It’s a holiday we celebrate every year, and it’s meaningful to have it here when you’re away from home,” he continued.
Milevich and his wife, Tabitha, began helping their children, Caleb, 11, and Cayden, 8, light the candles on the menorah when the boys were 2 or 3 years old.
“Six or 7 is when you let them actually light it by themselves,” he said. “It is a lot of fun, especially when they light all eight—and then you have to alternate because there are two kids and one menorah.”
The major said this is the first year he won’t be in the family photo his family takes every year during the holiday.
“They’re doing it back home with my wife and my parents back home, and I get to do it here,” he said. “I got to do it with our Army family, which was great.”