Something Different: VMI Shabbat Zach Bugalla '17
It is not very often that one finds Washington and Lee students in Keydet territory, so when one does, he or she can assume that it is usually for a special occasion-and the program that occurred on January 23, 2015 was no exception. For the first time in history, W&L students participated in a Shabbat service in the sub-mess of VMI's Crozet Hall. After the lighting of the Shabbat candles, the cadets and the W&L students who attended were treated to a delicious meal, as well as a very special presentation by Colonel Keith Gibson who works at the VMI Museum. The presentation was about Moses Ezekiel, the first Jewish cadet to attend VMI; Ezekiel would eventually find himself amidst the American Civil War, and he participated in the Battle of New Market in 1864.
Col. Gibson talked about Ezekiel's life as a famous sculptor but also placed special emphasis on his life before and during his time as a cadet at the Institute. To learn about how he grew up as a Jew in the heart of the Confederacy and chose to attend a southern military school was a highly informative and enlightening experience for students of both W&L and VMI.
Colonel Keith Gibson presents on the life of Moses Ezekiel, VMI's first Jewish cadet. Photo by Laura Wiseman.
After the service, Col. James Park, the Institute chaplain who was also in attendance, spoke very highly of the event and observed that having students from W&L visit VMI for a change was a fantastic opportunity for the Institute to show its gratitude to W&L Hillel for graciously allowing cadets to attend Shabbat and High Holiday services. Cooperation between the two schools strengthens Jewish bonds and also provides more wonderful educational opportunities for the students.