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Army chaplain’s Passover seder a draw across Europe

Jonathan French, 5, and his father, Capt. Jonathan French, 32, lift their cups as part of Monday's Passover Seder at the chapel in Grafenwohr, Germany, on Monday. Some 50 people attended the first of four Seders held by U.S. Army Europe's only Jewish chaplain, Capt. Andrew Shulman.

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — Break out the Haggadah and crack the matza — Passover has arrived at this small Army garrison, where U.S. Army Europe’s only Jewish chaplain is holding services for the second straight year.

Capt. Andrew Shulman of the 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion guided participants in the first of four Passover seders on Monday, a meal that commemorates the Jewish exodus from Egypt and the tale of an angel of death passing over homes marked with the blood of a lamb.

The holiday began at sundown on Monday and continues through next Tuesday.

The Monday seder drew families from across USAREUR posts, including Baumholder, Kaiserslautern and Schweinfurt. Wine, grape juice and matza — flat, unleavened bread — were laid out on the tables, and attendees turned to their Haggadahs, the Passover text in English and Hebrew, to participate in the service.

“Everything hints toward slavery or freedom tonight,” Shulman said of the service and the food.

Capt. Andrew Altman, commander of a signal company in Baumholder, attended Shulman’s seder for the second year in a row. He knew the chaplain from a Passover he held in Iraq several years back, he said.

Shulman says he’s one of two Jewish chaplains in Europe, the other with the Air Force, at Ramstein Air Base.

While he has personal relationships with many of the participants at his seders, other guests are a surprise, he said, including several Germans who live outside one of the post gates.

“You’ll find that at Passover they come out of the woodwork,” Shulman said.

beardsley.steve@stripes.com
Twitter: @stevenjbeardsley
 

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