Jewish Soldiers in Iraq Celebrate Holidays in Saddam´s Former Palace

(JTA) Joe Berkofsky - More than 100 Jewish members of the U.S. forces stationed in Iraq attended the High Holiday services at the former Iraqi dictator's Baghdad compound. Then the group performed the customary tashlich ceremony outside the palace, casting pieces of bread representing sins into a private lake once owned by the Iraqi dictator's sons, Uday and Qusay. There are an estimated 500 Jews among the 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and Kuwait. There were also services for Jewish service personnel in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, which drew some 50 people, and two services in Kuwait, where U.S. forces also are stationed. Kayitz Finley, 21, a marine corporal from Los Angeles home on 30 days' leave, is the son of ex-Marine Rabbi Mordecai Finley of Congregation Ohr HaTorah in Los Angeles. The young Finley said generally Iraqis welcomed the U.S. forces, and he made a point of telling many of them he was a Jew who "put my life on the line to free their country." Typically, he said, that declaration met a "sour" reception, with many Iraqis blanching and walking away or asking him to leave a house where he had been welcomed moments before.

2003-10-03 00:00:00

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