From: (name withheld)
Subject: One Veteran to another
Date: November 1, 2022 at 10:31:31 PM MDT
To: <[email protected]>
Dear Michael L. Weinstein,
I hope you are well?
I am sending this email in hopes you can help me out. I have been making 1/12 scaled models of the Missing Man Table for fellow veterans or for their family. I started this to help me with my own Anxiety and Depression. I asked to make one for a veteran in a nursing home and I have learned of his Jewish faith. Now the others that I made have been made for Christians placing the scale model of the Bible wasn’t an issue. But with his faith I was planning on not putting any kind of religious symbol on the table. But a debate has came up over this and I would like to here your opinion. These scale model are meant to be personal honor for a family as a keepsake. It’s meant to honor those who served an everlasting symbol of their presents being missed. The Torah is used in the Temples and families have them in a place of honor in their homes.
So, here is the debate and we have three strong opinions:
1. Is no Holy text on the table. (Keeping with the separation of church and state)
2. Placing a scaled replica of the Torah.
3. Placing a scaled replica of a pray book.
My problem is I am confused on what is right. I want to honor their faith and not to offend. A pray book feels lacking in some way. With your work with MRFF and this issue I would be willing to accepting your opinion. My other thought was to ask him directly. Again, I don’t want to offend.
On Nov 2, 2022, at 11:15 AM, Chris Rodda <[email protected]> wrote:
Hi (name withheld)…
I’m Chris Rodda, MRFF’s research director. Mikey asked me to respond to your email since I’m the person who has done all the research for MRFF on the Missing Man Table.
We here at MRFF always opt for no Bible on the table, both for separation of church and state reasons and also because the original Missing Man Table tradition did not include a Bible. The addition of the Bible didn’t start until 1999, over thirty years after the tradition was begun.
As far a separation of church and state goes, that is only an issue when it’s a government entity putting up a table display. Your putting Bibles on the models that you make as personal gifts to veterans who you know are Christians isn’t an issue, although it’s not in keeping with the original Bible-less tradition.
What to do for a Jewish veteran? No book at all would seem to be the easiest solution, and would also be in keeping with the original tradition, although a Torah would show the veteran that you took the time to consider his religion and make a Jewish version of the table especially for him. I’d say that either would be fine. As I said, the separation of church and state concern isn’t an issue for a personal gift.
Sorry I don’t really have a definite answer for you, but whichever you choose to do I’m sure the veteran will appreciate the time and effort that you put into such a unique gift.
Senior Research Director
Military Religious Freedom Foundation
From: (name withheld)
Date: November 2, 2022 at 9:41:11 AM MDT
To: Chris Rodda <[email protected]>
Cc: Mikey Weinstein <[email protected]>, Michael L Weinstein <[email protected]>
Subject:Re: One Veteran to another
This was actually very helpful of an answer. Because, I want this to be a personal gift to the veteran and their family you’ve helped me decide that I will always ask first and that the offering itself isn’t offensive.
Thank you very much.