When Jews begin their Hanukkah celebrations this week, they will commemorate a 2,200-year old revolt led by Judah Maccabee against a Greek empire attempting to crush the Jewish faith. For some, the holiday holds an added resonance, linking their military service to one of the greatest Jewish warriors of all time.
These are the Jews of the United States Marine Corps.
In the popular mind, a Jewish Marine may sound exotic. In fact, Jews have their own chapters in the history of the Corps. In his book "Semper Chai!" Howard J. Leavitt explains the compatibility with a refreshing lack of nuance: "[M]any Jews were—and are—Marines, and the basic and lofty precepts and spiritual underpinnings of the United States, the U.S. Marine Corps and Judaism are one and the same, without any differences or conflict."