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I received an unusual invitation this Memorial Day. Some friends are involved in an exercise program called "CrossFit"; their gym is doing a workout called "Murph" on Memorial Day in memory of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005. They asked if I would join them.
It turns out that "Murph" is a beast of a workout, consisting of a one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, and another one-mile run. It's the kind of workout that a Navy Lieutenant might love, and apparently was named for Lt. Murphy for exactly that reason. Not so easy for a rabbi, even one who keeps in shape!
Unbeknownst to those of us outside of this fitness world, the CrossFit community has been naming workouts in memory of fallen soldiers for over a decade. Such community "Murph" events turn out to be quite popular on Memorial Day: for $20, anyone can join the workout, proceeds to benefit the Navy Seal Foundation. Many perform the workout in memory of a particular soldier, perhaps one they personally knew, or perhaps a name and face chosen from a list of fallen soldiers. What a beautiful way to honor those who protect our freedom.
All of which got me wondering. Could we in the Second Amendment Community observe Memorial Day in a similar fashion? How appropriate that we could have community-wide target competitions in memory of those who gave their lives to protect ours. What an opportune occasion to invite others from outside our usual circles of gun owning friends -- just as I was invited to join in "Murph", we could reach out to others to join us in a friendly shooting competition for Memorial Day. I am sure we would have plenty of volunteers to make such events happen, and we could raise funds for causes like the Wounded Warrior Project -- all while exercising the Second Amendment freedoms that "Murph" and so many others died to preserve.
As Jews, we are always grateful for the freedoms offered to us in America, freedoms rarely seen not only in Jewish history but in world history. We must also be grateful to those who protect those freedoms for us. We at JPFO observe Memorial Day not just as another "day off", not just as a day to barbeque with family, but also as a "day on" -- a day of heightened awareness, of remembrance of all those who sacrificed for us.
As Rabbinic Director of JPFO, on this memorial day, I send my condolences to the families of those who have lost those they love in defense of our country and freedom. May G-d send you comfort among all who mourn, and may we live to see fulfillment of Isaiah's great prophecy: "Nation shall not lift sword against nation, and they shall know no more war." May G-d protect those who stand in our defense today, whether on land, by sea, or in the air. May He bring you home to your families in safety and in peace. May He preserve our freedom and liberty and continue to bestow upon us the blessings that have made this country great.
Navy Seal Memorial Challenge: http://navysealmemorialchallenge.com/
"Memorial Day Hurt", an article from the CrossFit Journal about the event: http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/CFJ_2014_05_Murph_Achauer3.pdf
Wounded Warrior Project: http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/
Rabbi Bendory is an NRA Certified Firearms Instructor.
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