By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Brian Sloan
WATERS SOUTH OF JAPAN (NNS) -- The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) received a new handmade Torah from the Jewish Welfare Board (JWB) and the Jewish Communities Center Association headquartered in New York City.
The Torah contains the five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, and is a crucial component for studying and practicing the Jewish faith.
"It is my honor and pleasure to memorialize the gift of the New York Police Department Torah to USS George Washington," said retired Rear Adm. Harold Robinson, a Rabbi who currently serves as the director on the JWB Jewish Chaplains Council. "I fully understand the risks to the Torah that come with placing it aboard a warship. I accept those risks."
Robinson hand carried the new Torah from New York City to Yokosuka, Japan and presented the sacred text to the Jewish community aboard George Washington.
"There was a lot of coordination that took place to get the new Torah aboard George Washington," said Lt. Cole Yoos, a George Washington chaplain. "The Command Religious Ministries Department and Cmdr. Ronnie Citro, our former dental officer, were in close contact with Rabbi Robinson and the Jewish Chaplains Council for several months."
Additionally, the process of making a Torah requires a lot of care and attention to detail.
"The reason Torahs are so valuable is because they are made the exact same way that they were made 3,000 years ago," said Aviation Electronics Technician 3rd Class Zachary Rosen, the Jewish lay leader aboard George Washington. "Each Torah is handwritten on an animal hide by a scribe who has several years of training. If a single letter is skewed, the scribe must rewrite the entire section. Because of that, writing an entire Torah typically takes a year and a half to 2 years to complete."
Hull Technician 2nd Class Thomas Nunez, from Katy, Texas, and Hull Technician 3rd Class Shawn Dilldine, from Claremore, Okla., played a crucial role in the construction of a wooden Ark which holds George Washington's new Torah.
"It was a good challenge for us," said Nunez.
"We had to do a good amount of research and make several very precise measurements," added Dilldine.
After all the hard work toward building and acquiring the new Torah, George Washington's Jewish community said they felt better equipped to practice their faith.
"It gives our Jewish community a new level of worship and study because Judaism is based largely around studying the Torah," said Rosen. "It's a very special gift that we will be honored to use for several services in the future."
George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, are on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. George Washington will conduct a hull-swap with the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) later this year after serving seven years as the U.S. Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier in Yokosuka, Japan.