Rabbi Benjamin Flax, spiritual leader of Temple Tifereth Israel, received his commission as a Massachusetts National Guard chaplain during an impressive ceremony Sunday.
Flax’s father, Rabbi Ira Flax, and State Rep. Jeff Turco administered oaths to Flax in the temple’s main sanctuary where members of the rabbi’s family, military officials and guardsmen, Temple President Sandra Pellegrino, and others proudly witnessed the important milestone in Rabbi Flax’s career.
Rabbi Flax becomes the third member of his family to enter US military service. His father was a lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force Chaplain Corps. His grandfather, Captain Harold Loigman, was a Naval Seabee.
Rabbi Benjamin Flax noted the family’s tradition of service in his remarks.
“I am proud to carry forward the legacy of my family’s service and contribute to the diverse tapestry of the United States military standing as a testament to the strength and resilience of my Jewish heritage and my commitment to the defense of our nation,” Flax told the gathering.
Flax, 30, said “being part of a Jewish military tradition has highlighted the significance of diversity and inclusivity within the armed forces.”
“The United States military has always has always been a melting pot of different backgrounds, cultures, and religions, and my family’s history exemplifies this diversity. It has taught me the importance of embracing our differences and fostering an environment where individuals from all backgrounds can serve proudly and be valued for their unique contributions.”
In one the most emotional moments during the ceremony, Benjamin’s father, Rabbi Ira Flax, presented a miniature menorah that he carried with him during his military service.
“I’m very, very proud of my son,” said Rabbi Ira Flax. “My father-in-law was a Naval captain when he retired and he swore me in to the Air Force, and now I’m swearing in my son.”
Benjamin Flax expressed his gratitude to Chief Warrant Officer in the U.S. Army Reserves, Matthew Niedermeier, for his support and mentorship.
“He’s been a great supporter of my goal to enter the Massachusetts Army National Guard and really was a stalwart in helping me to this point,” credited Flax
Flax is a graduate of the University of Alabama and holds a Master’s degree from Harvard University. He did his rabbinical training at Yeshiva Pirchei Shoshanim.
Rabbi Flax will continue serving in his position at Temple Tifereth Israel. His full commitment with the National Guard consists of one weekend per month and two weeks of annual training during the summer, along with 12 weeks of chaplain’s basic officer leadership training in South Carolina. “I’m just very excited and I’m very grateful to everyone for showing up today,” said Flax. “I’m looking forward to this being a wonderful start of my career with the Massachusetts Army National Guard.”