Rabbi Albert Slomovitz, a retired U.S. Navy captain and chaplain, was honored in a ceremony at Congregation Etz Chaim on Saturday, Nov. 14.

The ceremony was connected to observances held at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis the previous weekend and to Rabbi Slomovitz’s service as only the second Jewish chaplain in the academy’s 170 years.

On Nov. 6 and 7, the Jewish chapel at the Naval Academy commemorated the 10th anniversary of its opening. Formally known as the Miller Chapel, the facility is within the Commodore Uriah P. Levy Center and has a prominent location on campus.

After Shabbat, Rabbi Albert Slomovitz shows off his Navy football jersey between Rabbi Shalom Lewis and 1972 Naval Academy graduate Stephen Dix.

After Shabbat, Rabbi Albert Slomovitz shows off his Navy football jersey between Rabbi Shalom Lewis and 1972 Naval Academy graduate Stephen Dix.

As part of the commemoration, several of the Jewish chaplains who have served at the academy since the position was established in 1985 were honored. Being a chaplain at the Naval Academy means being a part of the Navy family and thus living and breathing Navy football. So each chaplain was presented a Naval Academy football jersey emblazoned with “Rabbi” instead of a player’s name and with a number corresponding to the rabbi’s place in the line of service of Jewish chaplains at the academy.

Rabbi Slomovitz could not attend the commemoration because he had committed to participate in a Veterans Day program at Ahavath Achim Synagogue in Buckhead.

Rather than mail the jersey to him, though, the staff at the Friends of the Jewish Chapel, an organization that provides support and funding for the chapel, enlisted Etz Chaim member Stephen Dix, a member of the academy’s Class of 1972; Bob Bachrach, the synagogue’s executive director, and Rabbi Shalom Lewis to surprise Rabbi Slomovitz by presenting the jersey to him during Shabbat services Nov. 14.

Rabbi Slomovitz was asked to attend services in his Navy uniform. Without knowing the reason, he was invited to the bimah, where Dix spoke about the importance of Rabbi Slomovitz’s service to the Navy and to the academy; extended the thanks of the Brigade of Midshipmen, the Navy Chaplains Corps and the Friends of the Jewish Chapel; and presented him with his No. 2 Navy football jersey.

Rabbi Slomovitz, the former spiritual leader of Congregation Gesher L’Torah in Alpharetta, lives in Marietta and is an assistant professor of history at Kennesaw State University. His involvement with Etz Chaim has included helping to organization the East Cobb congregation’s commemoration of the centennial of the lynching of Leo Frank with a ceremony, a grave marker and a tree planting Aug. 16.