By Felicia Whatley
In heavy, not light, of hearing two days in a row that the ” world is really bad, really going to (pot)” by two local religious leaders, one being the Chaplain of West Haven’s VFW Post 9422 on Friday and heard again from the Rabbi of West Haven’s own Messianic Jewish Synagogue Simchat Yisrael on Saturday, Aug. 18; I have to disagree.
The context from Chaplain Fred Kaiser is on the discussion of the impact of the poisoned marijuana that hurt all those in West Haven which was dealt in the town’s Green across from the City Clerk’s office, recently, and how the VFW Post has changed, how the world has changed. He is 90 years old and is a World War II veteran, having heroically survived the wrath of Nazism, Communism, and terrorism, and (sadly) even his beloved wife.
Also making the shocking comment from the Jewish pulpit, Rabbi Tony Eaton is engrossed in reading about world affairs as an avid reader of the New York Times, who says politics doesn’t matter, only God and Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) matters. He discarded that politicians can’t fix things that we should believe only in God. He seems deeply affected by the health and welfare of our nation, as well as his congregation. As we head into another New Year of Judaism’s holiest day of Rosh Hoshana, he reflects perhaps on the unnecessary, untimely loss of life of some of our members.
Rabbi Eaton has a unique, all-American success story of a son of many who grew up in a project in the Bronx, to becoming one of the most influential people in my life, with a wonderful wife named Merryll, whom I think of respectfully as a woman that has a positive impact on many lives in Connecticut, and whom I would like to call a friend. Merryll, who works for New Haven’s Christian Community Action, is like her husband, often helping the misfortune survive and make ends meet. His family is growing, as they have recently been blessed with a new grandson.
But WHO our leaders of this free nation, city and state are, DOES matter, especially for our futures. The laws of the United States are built on the religious morals of our Founding Fathers, the government municipalities that govern and enforce them, military that protects them, and the constituents that are affected by them. The idea that we can elect our own bosses to rule and we can lobby to fix societies’ needs and cater to their wants is VERY important, but as a religious disciple I DO answer to God, first and foremost.
Oh, but was there a better time? Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9422 Chaplain, said the Post used to be bustling with members, a full canteen, and even a Women’s Auxiliary that his wife used to attend. Now most of the members have died off, where there once was Post parking there are housing structures and the canteen has dried up.
There are about a dozen members now (most Vietnam era), a few housebound too elderly or sick to actively attend, and only a couple of females on the roster. The old printer gave up and there is no money for Internet, cable or even a phone. Usually the Post is only open on Wednesday nights, not including the monthly open-to-the-public $7 home-cooked Friday dinners, an occasional special public event like riding in the Memorial Day Parade, Sept. 29th’s Beef and Beer gala, Poppy selling fundraisers the local at Stop and Shop, or the yearly in house Visit with Santa.
The best part about being Messianic or a military Chaplain, I think would be that you get to enjoy almost every holiday and embrace every walk of life. To understand that many people still flee religious persecution and come to America to live the rights and privileges we govern and protect is a BIG deal. You both are comforting and just knowing them fills a great void in my life.
What I would say to the elder of our VFW Post, is that we are in need of growth, (we do have a couple of new ones) an injection of technology, (I donated a printer), and more support and involvement from our community so we can grow and prosper. As the West Haven VFW Post Adjutant General, I don’t want the Post to close up and go away, either.
As for losing faith in our political system, sigh, yes there is corruption and horrific events like a laundry list of bad things that DID tragically happen displayed when you pick up some newspapers or turn on the tele. It is an overload of depressing events from natural disasters, criminal behavior, and epic terrorist attacks.
The rabbi and chaplain are thoughtful, sensitive and understanding of the suffering and poor. The rabbi shared with us that we are ALL worthy of God’s love and the chaplain led us in prayer over a beautiful, home-cooked meal of Commander Freddy Jackson’s Salisbury Steak. Quartermaster Angelo Narduzzo, who is always knowledgeable and helpful, and I liked it so much, we competed for seconds. It was THAT good! Luckily God provided plentifully.
During a financially difficult time, the congregation helped me pay some of my bills, as did the Unmet Needs Program of the VFW. I feel the love of fellowship and encouragement of God, my peers, family, friends and community.
There needs to be more front-page positive news. It is usually the worst thing that happened. There needs to be more reporting on news about the innovative, wonderful things that man and womankind have contributed to make life so much better, because we really have accomplished SO much.
I am proud to have been an American Soldier, grateful to have subsidies that allow me to live more independently, and excited to find a religious community where we pray together, eat together and hangout together in a synagogue that does nearly the whole Sedar and the Torah with both testaments in English and Hebrew, a morning bible study led by Paul August and Rabbi Eaton’s free weekly Messianic Jewish study classes.
I have made a lot of friends there who have made my birthday special, like Carol Mazzi who always has something intelligent, witty and fun to bring to the table., Gail DeLucia a proud native born in West Haven., Marcie Cohn a United Methodist of Monroe’s Sunday school teacher, Sandra Rollings-Smith a preschool teacher in Shelton, and Janice Chapin a social worker, actress and singer having recenty played Sister Mary Amnesia in NunSense comes from neighboring New York and makes the drive every Saturday to get involved with us for Simchat Yisrael religious services.
I also look forward to kicking it with fellow war-torn veterans in a smoking free zone filled with down to earth values and family oriented events and an embodiment of comprehensive senses of humor. VFW Post 9422 has a membership of heroes who are among some of the nicest people I have ever met.
Doing an Earth spinning on its axis check, I have been out of a three-year stint of homelessness for over a year now, and after enduring a 12-month incarceration it has all been over with for over two years, now. There are also the lives that have touched mine (friends for life) from the Spooner Homeless Shelter. Michelle Testone and her 10-year-old Kiara Testone and Bruce Benoit, I met there. Those I miss and am trying to get ahold of are Brenda and her daughter Naveaha, Red, and little once 4-year-old Jazzman I babysat who said, “I will call Dark Vador on you.” to someone being mean. My world IS much improved. The world isn’t going to pot. Our soldiers don’t die in vain and our political and religious leaders really are making difference.
I figure it isn’t one thing that makes you feel like the world is falling apart. But as a side note, who the hell would ruin pot? And why are people dying of preventable and curable reasons? Why did I rot in Hell for a year, just waiting for the court’s dismissal? What ever happened to earning the right to a speedy trial? It is ridiculous and of great malice. Yes, death and destruction is disheartening, but not as devastating as say the whole book of Revelations. Well I guess, until it hits home.
But, we, as Americans, are a society that chips in and works hard… with God at the helm, Jesus (Yeshua) in the co-pilot seat, hopefully the best and the brightest in the gunner seats, with you and me at the rudder saving our six (rear), we are moving along faster than the speed of sound–advancing as a species. Though some of the greats and lates have passed on, so have some of the world’s worst enemies. We might miss the past sometimes, but the future is looking brighter every day. I even have a job interview coming up this week.
New York Times: How do you like them apples? We always remember the fallen, no man is left behind, no suffering is too big for God to handle, and may we lead for valor and victory, not medals. We need competent leaders and positive, accurate reporting. Democracy and freedom of speech matters.
Please get involved with your local West Haven veterans’ groups, churches, synagogues, and Town Hall and in any season, help the homeless and less fortunate. Sometimes we need to do more than pray. Please remember to seek assistance if you need it.
West Haven’s Town Hall and County Clerk’s Office at 355 Main Street gives rent rebates, vehicle reimbursments, and other financial assistance to the elderly, the disabled, war served veterans, and income eligiable individuals.
The Jewish Family Services and Community Action Agency (203) 285-8018 can help with utility assistance for folks with financial hardship with CEAP (Connecticut Energy Assistance Program).
The JFS also has a nice food pantry or Operation Fuel. To contact the JFS call at (203) 389-5599 or for the food pantry there call before noon on weekdays to make an appointment call (203) 397-0796. There is also our local WHEAT. West Haven’s food pantry at 674 Washington Ave. is open from 2 to 4:30, Tuesday through Friday and the third Saturday of each month from 9 to noon.