Thursday, December 29, 2011

The week with two Saturdays

During one of our many trips to Hawaii, we were lucky enough to spend some time with Navy Chaplain Haman of the Aloha Jewish Chapel on Pearl Harbor. He enthralled us with his stories about his visits to Japan, Nagasaki to be exact (more of that to follow), and his duties on Pearl Harbor naval base and on the navy ships. But, the most interesting one was his story about the year with two Saturdays.

We are reminded of that story because the island nation of Samoa is moving to the other side of the International Dateline and is giving up December 30, this year.

Chaplain Haman's story - he was on a ship, in the Pacific, travelling from east to west, going to Japan from Hawaii. The International dateline is confusing to me, but, if you cross it from west to east, you repeat the day. He conducted Friday night services and Saturday morning services for the Jewish sailors on board. He was east of the International Dateline at the time. The next day, for him, was Sunday. His navy ship passed another navy ship, going from west to east. A message was sent to his ship, asking if a Jewish chaplain was aboard and if he could helicopter to their ship to conduct Saturday morning services. It was Sunday on his ship, but still Saturday on the ship that was west of the International Dateline. And he did it. Fhat was his week of two Saturdays.

This story came to mind because Guam is shifting its time position to the other side of the International Dateline, from the East of it to the West, and, in Guam, this year, there will be no December 30.

Chaplain Haman told us about his visit to a Jewish cemetery in Nagasaki that was almost at ground zero when the atomic bomb was dropped. The stones and markers were in relatively good shape and the most recent gravestone was chiseled, death in 1901.
But, Chaplain Haman noted that many of the grave sites had remembrance stones left by people who had visited. He looked around, and saw no one. And, no one he asked knew anything about the cemetery, the people who were buried there, or the visitors.

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