The United States Navy

09/03/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/03/2019 13:46

TSC Great Lakes Welcomes Rabbi to the Command's Chaplain Team

GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) -- Training Support Center Great welcomes the newest member of the chaplain's team to serve the spiritual needs of students and staff.

Lt. j.g. Robert Friedman was named the staff chaplain for Apprentice Technical Training and Center for Surface Combat Systems Unit Great Lakes School houses and Gold Fleet Barracks. Following going through Professional Naval Chaplaincy Basic Leadership Course and the Direct Commission Officer Indoctrination Course at the Officer Training Command Newport, R.I., he became one of nine active duty rabbis in the Navy and Marine Corps.

'It is exciting to be here to provide a Jewish presence for the Jewish sailors,' Friedman said. 'I know that rabbis are a scarce resource so, for me, I want to provide that resource for those sailors especially. It is also important to let junior Sailors know that there are rabbis in the Fleet that perform Jewish services and where better to start providing for their spiritual needs then at the start of their Navy careers.'

Beginning on September 26, Jewish services will be held every Friday at 6 p.m. at the Bluejacket Memorial Chapel. In addition, services will be scheduled for all holidays and Jewish lifecycle events. This includes High Holy Day services at the end of August and throughout October such as Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.

'I will also be working with the rest of the chaplain team to make sure that everyone regardless of their faith has the ability to worship and practice their faith according to their faith traditions while meeting the standards of the mission of TSC,' he said. 'This can be accomplished through services and religious accommodation requests that go through the commanding officer with our advisement.'

Another responsibility Friedman and the chaplain team is to be caregivers to all Sailors who come through their doors.

'Anything a Sailor needs to talk about we are there to listen,' he said. 'We can guarantee complete and utter confidentiality unless a Sailor gives us permission to talk with others. We are the safe space where they can talk about anything and we can serve as advocates for them.'

If a Sailor's needs is greater than what can provided by chaplain services they will assist in getting them to the proper location.

Friedman understands that students will be going through a lot of expectation management and adjusting to life as a Sailor, and that can be a very challenging time for Sailors. He also believes that now is an opportune time for them to really begin creating habits and life practices that can help in and outside the Fleet.

'It is part of helping them in the Sailorization process as well as becoming adults,' Friedman said. 'The majority of the students hear are 18-19 years old, fresh out of high school. Maybe this is the first taste of independence that they have had. It is not unlike or dissimilar to a college freshman trying to figure out the boundaries of adulthood, how to behave, make their own schedules and stay productive. If I can use my position and the opportunities I have when I meet with them, to work with them on those type of things and not just address the minor things that are going on but the way their living life then that is one of my hopes.'

It is the belief of Friedman that the military chaplaincy chose him because of the level and depth of interpersonal relationships that comes with this job. He enjoys the counseling, he enjoys working with sailors and individuals, military or not, students or staff, in order for them to live better, balanced lives. If he can do that for one person while here, and have a lasting impact, then that is a success.

'We are taught in chaplain school about deckplating, walking the deckplates, going out where our Sailors are,' Friedman said. 'It is the ministry of presence and to me in particular, I don't like being behind the desk. Ideally, I want to be only in the office about an hour at the beginning of the day and 20 to 30 minutes at the end of the day to catch up on emails. Other than that, I want to be out where the Sailors. I want to see them in action, getting a sense of their work rhythm. That way they know who I am, they know that I am around and they know that if they need to talk with a chaplain I will be there for them.'

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