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Interview with James Apple. February 12, 2003 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with James Apple. February 12, 2003
February 12, 2003
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Apple, James Interviewer: Zarbock, Paul Date of Interview: 2/12/2003 Series: Military Chaplains Length 60 minutes

Zarbock: Good morning. My name is Paul Zarbock. We’re at the Office of Temple Israel in Wilmington, North Carolina. This is tape number two of Rabbi James Apple. In tape number one, Rabbi Apple retired after almost 30 years service in the United States Navy. One of the things the rabbi did was to maintain, not daily, but with great frequency, a sort of narrative log. I don’t want to really call it a diary because it has greater depth than most diaries.

It was a narrative log of experiences and activities and we’re going to start off, the rabbi has a book in front of him that is one of the diaries. Off camera, we had agreed on a presentation. We will start off by asking the rabbi some sort of concept, what is it you’re going to read, statements of heroism, statements of foolishness, etc. then reflect back on them.

Zarbock: Good morning Rabbi. Would you take it away, please.

Apple: Well yeah, we talked about in our conversation when you go to sea, the underlying concept is you really have to know what you’re doing out there. As I used to say, you’ve got to know what you’re doing. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re going to be in trouble. Something is going to happen to you. That was the underlying thing. So I’m going to read from my diary different sections and comment on them.

This is October 10th. (From the diary) I am now in Turkey. From the airplane it is the breadbasket of Asia. People are interesting to look at. The land, the buildings, the water, the climatic change. I’m off alone to see downtown Istanbul and the Bazaar. I changed my room as the toilet did not flush. I went from 505 to 507, 325. Lesson: A lower room has water pressure.

Now let me tell you, every time I went into a hotel, I always took some toilet paper and threw it in the toilet bowl and flushed it If it didn't flush down, there was no pressure. That meant no shower and you were taking your chances. So I would move continually from room to room to room all over Europe when I went to a hotel and this is typical. So here I am in Turkey, I finally went down to room 325. It’s like three floors up from the main entrance or two floors up from the main entrance. So water pressure is really important. Don’t eat salads!

Went out to dinner with Army Colonels and had a good time. Don’t eat salads or drink the water in Turkey. Don’t know about the fruit. So you can see, I’m very careful about what I eat because you never know what you pick up. Went shopping in the Covered Bazaar, bought a brass tray that I liked. Rugs, gold, clothes, leather. I did not buy. . I did well in my bargaining.

Istanbul is a dirty city, but historic. A nice place to visit. I like the Turks. We’re not one to wrong them. Let me tell you, the key person in Turkey is Attaturk who unified Turkey and all over Istanbul you see pictures of Attaturk Turk. You don’t say anything wrong about Attaturk. Otherwise you’re going to wind up in jail.

Zarbock: Rabbi, why did you make the remark that you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of a Turk or the equivalent of that? What led you to that conclusion and what do you think would happen and how would you get on the wrong side.

Apple: Well if you insulted Attaturk, you’re insulting the Father of that nation and the Turks would not stand for that. They’re very chauvinistic. They’re very patriotic and they would have no question of putting you in jail. That’s the way it is in Turkey. You do something wrong and it’s black and white with that government. It’s not shades of gray like our government so you just have to learn to watch what you say, watch what you do and be very careful.

Zarbock: Were you in uniform while you were going in the bazaar?

Apple: No, no, always wore civilian clothes because you could be a target for somebody. So you took your uniform off the minute you got off the plane and got to the hotel and went into civilian clothes. And I had long hair to try and blend in with the civilians.

Zarbock: What about being a Jew?

Apple: Turkey has a lot of Jews as a matter of fact. I tried to go to the synagogue which was on the other side of the Bosporus. I couldn’t get there. But Turkey has a lot of Jews and they protect their Jews. Jews have a strong history in Turkey.

So I’ll tell you more about how I got out of Turkey. Getting out of Turkey was another interesting experience. You fly all over the Mediterranean on a thing called ASCOMED which is the Military Airlift Command in Naples and they book your flights.

Zarbock: Army, Navy, Marines, anyone. It’s a central clearing house.

Apple: That’s right and they set up your flights. So I called ASCOMED and said, “I need to get out of Turkey”. So they sent me to this ASCOMED office in Turkey. What an office. It’s on the second floor. It has two offices, really seedy. And at this time, I really don’t know what I’m doing and as the 82nd Airborne is loading into buses and they’re moving out, the office man appears unconcerned. It’s now 8:00 in the morning and the unconcerned man said, “The C-9 is due in at 9:00”

It was going to pick me up and take me back to Naples. The bus is on the other side of the airport and he left. So I’m sitting in this room with nobody.

Zarbock: What is a C-9?

Apple: Oh I don’t know, a C-9 is a jet airplane which has got like two jets on each wing. So he leaves. I’m sitting there reading a book.

Zarbock: In a seedy office.

Apple: In the seedy office. Now most Mediterranean men have moustaches which is really a macho sign. He had a moustache. The liaison office that I was sitting in was only a transition office because I have to get to the transportation management office where I will be then put on the plane. So nothing happens. Finally I get to the TMO by meeting another person in the CD office and saying to him I need to get to the TMO. This person takes me to the TMO.

Zarbock: And the TMO is?

Apple: It’s the Transportation Management Office which is going to get me out of Istanbul, Turkey. I finally get to the TMO. The fat clerk, now we’re talking about an obese woman, is really unconcerned about my ticket and my orders and she’s busy with something else which is eating. She sees me and she sees me having my C-rations. Right? She says to me, “I haven’t had breakfast yet”. She’s already eating, but she hasn’t had breakfast yet! “How about sharing with me your C-rations?”.

I figure the only way to get out of Turkey is to humor this obese woman so I give her my C-rations. I’m smiling, I’m patient, but Turkey could put Italy to bureaucratic shame. As I show the fat clerk the ASCOMED message, she says “Oh, I’ve received this”. I’m still waiting. It’s 9:15, no airplane! At 9:30 in pops this young Turkish man who says, “Let’s go”. So I ride on the back of a luggage rack with all the luggage that the C-9 is going to take to Naples.

I’m the only passenger on this aircraft. In fact, that’s it. The crew and me. I know how the Naples airport which is a military site, operates! On luck, some skill and faith and a smile. We arrive at Naples, their time is 11:00. I was glad to be home.

Zarbock: What year was that?

Apple: This was 1984.

Zarbock: And what was your rank at the time?

Apple: Commander, I was a Commander.

Zarbock: And how old were you?

Apple: I was in my late 40’s. I was strong, I was a young stud. Anyway I was glad to leave Turkey because you’re there at the mercy of the Turks. The Consulate, I went to the Consulate with a friend and they’re there just to handle the Americans. Military, they could care less, really. So leaving Turkey, I was on my own. I mean it was really very odd. It was an interesting feeling to say I’ve got to get out of here and whatever it takes, I’m going to get on that aircraft.

Zarbock: As a general concept Rabbi, when you are in the military and in a non-belligerent foreign country and you have some sort of difficulty, will the Embassy and Embassy staff be of help or are they primarily focused on civilians?

Apple: I don’t know. I never used an Embassy so I can’t give you an answer. I don’t know. I’ve been in Embassies. Where are we?

Zarbock: Okay, the question was asked, as a military person, had you any experiences with the Embassies, good, bad or indifferent?

Apple: I never had any experience with the Embassies. I went to visit the Marines that were stationed at the Embassies, but I never really used them. I stayed away from them because I felt that I had my military ID and I was really on my own.

Zarbock: Tell me about visiting the Marine guards at Embassies. Was this by invitation or did you just figure it was a responsibility?

Apple: It was my responsibility. When I was in a foreign country, they don’t have chaplains and they work hard. They guard the Embassy. So I would visit the Marine guards and say I’m Chaplain Apple. I would tell them that I spent a lot of time at Camp Lejeune and Okinawa so I would bond with them. Then we would talk. I would have a great time with them and then I would leave.

It was nice that somebody came to see them and say you’re an important person and I’m concerned about you. Then I would take their names and I would write or call whoever they wanted me to call or write. When I would go back to the States I would write their mother, “I saw your son or your boyfriend, etc. etc., they look fine!” I just wanted to let you know and I’d sign the letter Chaplain Apple. It was nice because somebody was saying you’re an important person.

Zarbock: By the way Chaplain, in formal and official correspondence, you were sending a letter from you to another let’s say a colonel in the Air Force, what was your signature block? Did it include denomination?

Apple: No, no.

Zarbock: Just chaplain?

Apple: No, no, you didn't do it that way. You sent the letter and then you signed it, it would be James L. Apple, first line, then it would be your rank, your corps and then US Navy. So it would be James L. Apple, Commander, CHC, USN because that was regular Navy and above that block, I would sign my name, James L. Apple.

Zarbock: Would it be insensitive and inappropriate to indicate you were a Catholic priest or a rabbi?

Apple: No, I never told people what my denomination was because I don’t think I ever entered into it…I told you before, a chaplain is a chaplain is a chaplain. So if I start saying well, I’m a rabbi and I saw your son,that just might turn people off. I don’t think that’s important.

I think the fact that a chaplain went to visit is the key and I think that people…like the Catholic priest would sign their letters, Father with a cross after their name, that’s the way the priests would sign it. They would put their rank down, but they would say like Father so and so and they’d put a cross. That’s how they signed all their letters. The Protestants some did and some didn't, but I just refused to do that. I thought that was wrong.

Zarbock: Regulations did not permit it, nor deny it, is that correct?

Apple: Regulations say you can either be called by your rank or by your title chaplain. Regulations said not father, not rabbi, not reverend. So I always said this is Chaplain Apple and rank was not important to me. To me rank was a paycheck and rank was something that I earned by virtue of jobs that I did. I know it sounds strange.

I always felt that you’re here for the men. You’re not here because of your rank. I felt some chaplains got carried away by their rank. I worked for many chaplains who said, I’m a Captain and don’t you ever forget that. When they started with that on me, I would simply say, I knew exactly what they were and I would say “ yes sir, no sir”, and I would give them wide birth.

I simply would say to myself, this is real insight to me now, these are chaplains and they’ve been seduced by the privileges of rank. My word is seduce! I simply said these are not the people I want to be with abut,I had to work with these people. I would go in, give them all the kudos they wanted, flatter their ego, but then would walk out, I’d shrug and I would say” sit behind that desk and enjoy every bit of it.”

Is that bitterness on my part? No, because when you talk to Line Officers and other officers, they would say, he’s more of an officer than he is a chaplain and I don’t want to deal with him for my troops or whatever. I had the opposite approach. Even though I was a Captain, I was in demand for all types of things.

Zarbock: Did you ever have a situation in which a social condition produced a bewildering, strange or hostile response. A part of all organization life has to do with the informal aspects which are very sculptured and very scripted.

Apple: Oh yes.

Zarbock: Once you get off the script…

Apple: I got this licked. All denominations…

Zarbock: What proceeded this letter, was it a social event?

Apple: The senior chaplain had invited his 0-6 friend, a Navy Captain, same denomination, down to visit him.

Zarbock: Where were you located, sir?

Apple: I was at Camp Lejeune. I was the Base Chaplain and he was a Division Chaplain.

Zarbock: What’s the difference?

Apple: Division goes with the troops. I owned the chapels, I don’t deploy. He deploys.

Zarbock: So I’m sorry, Chaplain A invites Chaplain B of equal rank to come to Lejeune to visit him.

Apple: And he rents a cabana. Okay I’m a Commander, I’m the Base Chaplain. I’m in charge of the Base Chaplain. The previous Base Chaplain had retired. They did not fill this position because they felt I could handle it. So I was the Base Chaplain for like nine months or 10 months. I’m the Commander, right. This man is a Navy Captain. So his wife calls my wife up, this is June or July 24, 1987. This is a hoot.

His wife calls my wife up and says, she requests my wife to invite our chaplains to his affair at the beach so I did so. He had gotten a cabana. This letter is a result of doing this. I had my assistant and I do all this. This is the letter that I get back.

Zarbock: So you received an invitation by way of the chaplain’s wife through your wife to you, is that correct?

Apple: To invite, I was invited along with my wife to visit with his friend. His wife calls my wife up and says to my wife, I want Chaplain Apple to invite the Base Chaplains to come to this beach house. So my wife finds me and says this is what she wants. So if his wife calls my wife and she talks to me, I assume that this is him speaking through her, correct?

Zarbock: Right.

Apple: Okay, the bottom line of this whole thing is that she never communicated this to him so I’m left holding the bag, right. This is the letter he sends me, this is an O-6 Captain speaking to a Commander. I’ll read this. I kept this because it serves as a reminder of what not to be. I never want to be like this. Ready?

“Walt is MY houseguest, MY friend. He is on leave. He came down to visit my wife and me. The beach cabana is in MY name and the get together on Sunday is MY party. You have no right nor authority to invite anyone. YOU are AN INVITED GUEST, not a host. You certainly have no right to invite anyone especially all your chaplains. That is the greatest arrogance, stupidity or lack of professionalism I’ve ever witnessed. You will contact all persons you invited informing them that you have far exceeded your authority to invite them to a party to which you were only an invited guest.” He never talked to his wife! He never talked to his wife!

“You will do it in such a manner that in no way reflects negatively on Walt or me. You will leave a note on my desk by noon that such action has been accomplished. Otherwise I will contact the other two couples I’ve invited and inform them that because of your arrogance, the get together is canceled and then inform Walt that because of your actions, I would not risk our friendship by exposing him to such a gaggle at the beach”.

“I cannot comprehend such behavior. It would be like my inviting the entire Division when you asked us to your home for dinner. Your discourtesy of interrupting me while I was talking to my chaplains and dropping such a bomb on me in the presence of others was most unprofessional and conduct worthy of giving one the title of Pushy Jew. You consult me beforehand, not after the fact especially when it is not military business, but social. Your actions severely endanger our friendship. Be so advised”.

He never apologized for this letter. His wife never told him what transpired and I was left holding the bag and so what I did was eat Humble Pie and do all of the things that he asked me to do. From that day on, I just had little to do with him. I mean you don’t write letters like that to people and it’s anger. So if you want to talk about negative things in my Navy career, that’s one of the few things that ever happened to me and I just read it and kept it because I said it’s not the way to be. It’s an object lesson. No chaplain should be…let’s talk about his retirement, okay?

Let’s talk about his retirement. He’s retiring and I get an invitation to go to his retirement and I’m laughing. God has His own way of doing things, right? God in His own way gets around to doing things. So I said to my wife that we had to go. We had to make sure he retires from the Navy. We have to make sure he’s gone, gone. So we go. We traveled to his retirement and it is raining cats and dogs. It is a horrible day, right? Strike one.

Zarbock: It’s an omen.

Apple: It’s an omen (laughter). It’s a horrible day. One for God, zero for him. I’m gloating, but I don’t need to gloat. We go in and the place is packed with people like myself and various people are going to say things about him. Everyone talked about his temper. Everyone from the Commanding Officer down to everybody that knew him talked about his temper. That’s the only thing they talked about. They kidded him about it, they talked about it.

Zarbock: So it was kind of a roast like?

Apple: It wasn’t a roast.

Zarbock: These were farewell remarks.

Apple: Farewell remarks.

Zarbock: But they had the same theme.

Apple: Same theme, temper, temper, temper. Now they give him a medal, you know. Fine! So he gets his medal and now he’s having the reception at the Officer’s Club. Now the place is packed for his retirement. The reception was empty. People said…what I’m trying to tell you is it was their way of saying, look what you did to me, this is my answer to your invitation. So he has this lavish spread and there weren’t a lot of people there, his family and his close friends in the military and us.

I just went there because I said I was going to eat. I just want to be sure I get my money’s worth out of this. I wasn’t kidding. I said, “God rewards!”. His punishment was that at the end all those people just deserted him and it was a horrible rainy day and that was interesting. They couldn’t have a parade for him outside. It was like he was being rewarded.

Now I’m not the only person that got these letters. He used to send these letters to anybody that crossed him. On the Marine base I used to have to put these people together, I had more chaplains come to my office and say how do you handle this. I understand what he did to you, how did you deal with it. So I did a lot of counseling putting people back together.

Zarbock: Return to the diary on a more upscale, more mirthful note.

Apple: Okay, I’m now in Vienna, Austria.

Zarbock: You took leave?

Apple: I took leave and I took a tour to Vienna with my wife. Austria!! For one dollar American you got 20 Shillings. The bus took 8 hours to travel to Vienna. This is fascinating. The officer announced a beautiful…Vienna is a beautiful city filled with buildings that have busts of famous people or statues of Greek myths or whatever the sculptor wanted to do. All types of scenes. It was chilly, downright cold and we couldn’t get to really enjoy Vienna as we could have. The stores are modern and sell pretty goods. Our hotel was nice, but a bit above Martin’s guest house in Nantucket, Massachusetts.

Martin’s guest house was kind of seedy. The hotel was a little above, a notch above seedy, seedy. Our guide was a gruff lady, but she did a good job. Vienna has museums, opera, music, Hapsburg castle/palace and the tin coffins of most of the Hapsburg’s. The only real Hapsburg to amount to greatness was Franz Joseph I. We learned all about his benevolent monarch.

We also saw Lipizanner horses, just fantastic. Sandy and I went to the Vienna Beer Hall and enjoyed the meal.. It was cold outside, but inside it was warm and great food. We also went to the Volks opera to see the Merry Widow in German which was really exciting. Beautiful opera hall, excellent performance in German. We toured the Staats Opera Vienna. It’s a beautiful opera house and had tortes afterwards, Viennese tortes.

A history lesson was learned by me. This is really something. I often wondered why the Jews did not flee Hitler prior to 1940-41. Austria is so beautiful and cultured. They had taken a real economic setback, a strong reason for a Jew to emigrate and that’s why they stayed. Only if you emigrated, why would a Jew want to leave his home, job or business or beautiful country. Rather he would hope for Hitler to be stopped.

History books never tell us this information. We maximized our trip and enjoyed every minute of it. That’s all I really want to say about that except that that’s why the Jews didn't leave. It’s fascinating. They loved the country, it’s gorgeous country.

Okay, where are we now? I am on the aircraft carrier Eisenhower, which is an aircraft carrier. My wife moves in on the 28th of November. She moves in November and I’m at sea on the Aircraft Carrier Eisenhower. We then had a mass casualty drill with Israelis. We’re off the port of Haifa. The Israelis are going to be flown aboard and the mass casualty drill is where people get killed and die. So the medics are there. The chaplain is there, right?

The Israelis use their Cadets which are like the ROTC students. The Israelis speak excellent Hebrew. Most officers are easy to talk to. One Israeli officer is a bit obnoxious or arrogant. He’s with the Sea Cadets.. So already he’s ego tripping. I wrote for the admiral in Hebrew the transliteration “Shalom Haverim” which means “Hello friends” and “ How good it is for brothers to dwell in unity”. Hopefully he’ll use it.

The chaplain on board the aircraft carrier, Senior Chaplain is John House. He’s a bit tired and coming down with a cold. John after two months on the carrier finds it wearing and grinding. I can understand that. I’m not sure now that I would like carrier duty. To make O6, I think that by now one’s track record is established. I’ll try to do for the Sea Cadets as much as possible, but it will be through John House as he wants all things that I do go through him. Rightfully so!

I can see a lot of things that could be started by John, but he neither has the time or the staff. For example, _____ on board, handle education, meeting with the chaplain or chaplain assigned to cover certain spaces, counseling consumes too much time. I think that I would assign a chaplain to be free to do whatever program he wanted to do and be a “no” person. This person would say to John House, “No, no, no”. He should bounce things off of him.

Everything I did, I talked it over with him and let him have a chop on it. The carrier could use four chaplains, a Protestant, a Catholic, a Jew and either Protestant or Catholic. One additional item. I spoke with one Israeli Colonel, and offered my services. He replied that they would not be needed, most of the Israeli Navy officers had them into their homes. This is a Jewish brain thinking. Bringing Navy people into my home so they can see how I live and I can be friendly with them and have a relationship with the United States Navy.

John told me that my presence was felt on the Eisenhower as I relieved a lot of anxiety in regard to the Sea Cadets, the Israelis and the food because we had Kosher food for them. John House made for me a helmet which had a big Star of David on it and had it painted blue, a white Star of David and a blue helmet so everybody would know they were dealing with a Jewish Chaplain.

Zarbock: Why was your invitation rebuffed by the Israeli officer who said “Oh, we really don’t need you”.

Apple: I think I threatened him because they have chaplains in the Israeli military. They’re basically Orthodox and I’m Liberal. I was doing what the Navy asked of me and he couldn’t square up the fact that here you have a Navy Chaplain that does all these things and he’s used to an Orthodox Rabbi with the long beard and Jewish Law and this is how it’s going to be. He resented the fact that I was a regular Naval officer and chaplain and he couldn’t deal with that. I can understand his anxieties. That’s the way it was.

I’m on the USS Samson, this is a destroyer, DDG-10. I like destroyers. The skipper is Jewish. One of the few Jewish Navy Captains I was with. The ship is a floating weapons platform with a young ward room. In other words all the officers are young, right out of OCS. Tonight I met with the Public Affairs Officer on the Latter Day Saint _______. Tomorrow rough seas are forecast.

The Black Shoe Navy, that’s the Navy, the sea going Navy, it’s interesting. They really worked hard. They’re worker bees. The Samson is clean and I’m in the unit commander’s cabin. I’ll explain that in a minute. Spoke with the Executive Officer and he agrees with my plans and goals. I’ll work my tail off, but I’ll have a fun time. The XO is a fine person and he and the CO run a tight ship. The crew appears to be happy.

A trip to the penalty box also known as bagel circle will be mild. We were going to be off the coast of Libya. We were just going to go in circles, we called them Bagel Circles, just go in circles until we were told it’s okay to move on and do some other mission. So we went around in circles for days.

Zarbock: For what reason, preparedness?

Apple: Preparedness in case you needed to do something, go into Libya, we were positioned to be there. So we were there. We left Naples at 8:30 in the morning and got underway. The seas were rough. I took one Meclizine. If you’re ever seasick, you need to take Meclizine. I should have taken two. I met with JO-3 Doosberry, set my programs and worked on the plan of the day to write public affairs blurbs and go on the CCT, closed circuit T.V. to do Israeli information stuff.

I was on the bridge. We got underway. I sleep in the unit commander’s cabin which is in the bow of the ship so the ship goes up and down, this way and this way, you feel it. So I got seasick. Every time the ship would rock, I would really groan and moan. So I skipped lunch and instead had crackers, Diet Coke, and took a nap. I had office hours from 1:00 to 2:30. Everything in my stateroom was tied down so nothing moves cause we’re going in rough seas.

So the ship was going this way, and that way and my Meclizine isn’t holding. So I go to sick bay and I ask sick bay to help me with my seasickness and they gave me a Scopolamine patch which goes behind the ear. They give me Scopolamine patches, one for three days. So I put the Scopolamine patch on and I go back to my rack and lay down. An hour later, I get up and I’m feeling okay. The Meclizine doesn’t work, Scopolamine works.

Because the ship is going up and down, we’re in rough seas, few officers had lunch today. Spoke to the LDS and will him a prayer over the microphone that goes all over the ship. We did anreplenishment tonight and was invited by the Savannah to go over there and be highlined to talk to the people on the Savannah as the chaplain.

Zarbock: Savannah is another destroyer or a cruiser?

Apple: Savannah is a ship that carries supplies. Oil, supplies, weapons, so it’s a supply carrier ship. I went over to the Savannah. Now you want to know what high lining is, it’s dangerous. As I said before, you’ve got to know what you’re doing out there. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can be in trouble. What they do is they shoot a line across to the ship, two lines across to the Savannah, heavy, heavy cord. They put on this heavy line a basket like and you fit into these pants and you hold on.

Zarbock: Like an infant stroller thing where the feet go down?

Apple: The feet go down and you’re like on pedals, but you’re in pants and you hold on and the ships are going like this. They’re about 50 feet apart. If the ship goes this way for some strange reason, the line’s going to snap. You’re going to go in the water. If you go in the water even though you’re wearing a life vest, the propellers are going to chew you up. You’re really going to be chewed up. So the both captains are on the bridge with their walkie-talkies and they’ve got the ships going like this and I said to the Captain of the Samson, “Don’t baptize me” which means don’t go like this and drop me in the water. This I don’t need, right?

It’s serious business! The ships are going at the same rate of speed and they’re going in a straight line and you’re going across, they pull you across. Then they drop the rope when you’re across and you hold it. So I’m on the Savannah doing chaplain stuff. Now it’s time to go back so the Savannah shoots a line back to the Samson, two lines back and the Samson has it rigged so you slide down and they’re pulling you.

Now the Savannah has me up high and I’m sliding down and they’re pulling me across, right? I’m going at nighttime. It’s twilight. I’m saying to myself, this isn’t really funny. It’s twilight and I’m really concerned about twilight because you never know what can happen out there because it’s getting dark. So we’re going like this and I get across. The ship blows its whistle. The captain is on his walkie-talkie and they drop the rope and we keep going straight.

See the idea is when you break away, the person who breaks away…the person that doesn’t have the rope, the end of the rope, breaks away. So when I went over, Samson broke away this way and reeled the rope in, the two ropes in. When I went to the Samson and they dropped the ropes, the Savannah peeled away. So this way the ropes don’t get caught up in the propeller.

Zarbock: Rabbi Apple, were you ordered to go over to the Savannah?

Apple: I was ordered to go to the Savannah.

Zarbock: By whom?

Apple: Well the Savannah Captain called the Samson Captain and asked if he had a chaplain on board and he said” yes.” He said he didn't have a chaplain on board and he would like to have a chaplain come over and talk to my people. So I went over in the morning and came back at night.

Zarbock: Chaplain, you mentioned something, “don’t baptize me.” What about the so-called Sacraments, could you have heard Confession for example? If I was a Catholic seaman and I was dying or I was in some sort of dreadful condition, you could hear confession?

Apple: Yes, yes.

Zarbock: Could you baptize?

Apple: If the person said to me “Baptize me before I die”, I’m not going to say to him “No!” I’m going to go through the motions. I’m going to go get some water, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, go to rest with Jesus’ love, knowing everything is going to be okay.

Zarbock: What about Communion?

Apple: If somebody wanted Communion and there’s no chaplain around, first I would get a lay leader to do it, I would get the Protestant or the Catholic lay leader to do the baptism, okay. But if there’s nobody around, say it’s in a foxhole, I would do it, you know, because the issue really with me is that person needs to have something for him before he dies or she dies and if that means I’m going to withhold Communion because I’m Jewish and I can’t do that, that’s wrong, that’s wrong.

So let me just give you an example what happened here in Wilmington. At Christmas time a couple of years ago, I’m a Volunteer Police Chaplain, and I go to this house. Picture the scene, the boyfriend is fixing the tree. The daughter says I want to go to Brooklyn to visit my boyfriend because I’m pregnant and the mother says to the daughter,” you can’t go, you don’t know where he lives. You have no money.” And the daughter says,”he stole my boom box,.The boyfriend. So I want what my boom box cost and that’ll pay for my trip to Brooklyn”

The mother says she can’t go, she’s not going to Brookly!n. So the police are there because the daughter has accused the man of stealing her boom box. So these arguments are going on back and forth. The mother is arguing with the daughter, the daughter is arguing with the mother and the man is decorating the Christmas tree. I size this thing up that the girl probably has stolen the boom box and sold it herself.

So I go into the kitchen and I said to the mother, “Do you have a Coke”. She said “ yes” and we go into the kitchen and I said…”I really don’t want a Coke, it’s a ruse. But it’s Christmas time and I think she really stole that boom box. She wants to go visit this boyfriend of hers in Brooklyn. So you should let her go,” I said,” and not argue with her.” I said to her, “It’s Christmas time and you’re a good Christian. Let’s get on our knees and pray and you do what Jesus tells you”.

Now this is a rabbi, gets down on his knees with this Christian woman who doesn’t know that I’m a rabbi, right. I said, “Let’s pray”. She said she didn't know what to pray. So I said, “Dear Lord Jesus, help me decide what’s right”, and I tell her to repeat after me. So she says the same thing and then she picks it up from there. I said we have to end with the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost to be blessed.

She gets up and she gives me my Coke and we go back in the other room. She says to her daughter, “I think you should go, you should go. In fact, I’m going to drive you to the bus station. Go upstairs and get your luggage and get packed”. This girl has one of those frozen lollipops that you suck on and she’s real cool. She’s sucking on this like she’s got everybody in her script. The minute her mother says it’s okay, go upstairs and get packed, the daughter says to the police officer, “It’s okay, I don’t care about the boom box anyway”. So I said to the officer, “Let’s go” and we left.

Now here’s a rabbi who gets down on his knees with this woman and does what you would expect a woman to do. Now if I hadn’t been in the Navy and hadn’t been trained, I would not have done that. So to answer your question, I would have done it. Now I preached at all types of Christian services, done all types of things that are Christian only because if the people needed it, I would do it. As long as I didn't prostitute my beliefs, that I would not do. I know it sounds strange. It probably sounds very strange for you to hear me say that.

Zarbock: No, it does not, but it sounds to me like you can address the spirituality between the various denominations rather than the religious differences. The thing that separates us frequently are words.

Apple: Yeah, I think you’re right. I address the spirituality of the people. I was concerned about their spirituality and who they were as people and I find, we’re going far field, but I find we don’t address people’s spirituality.

We don’t make people feel whole and that was my goal as a chaplain, to make a person feel whole and to feel worthwhile and I did that and that’s why I made captain, one of the reasons I made captain I think because I was willing to go there. I have to say that, well, let’s leave it go at that. Any more questions?

Zarbock: I probably would spend five or eight years with you, something like that, but Chaplain, thank you, it’s been a real treat and a real learning experience for me. What do you say, Shalom Aleichem?

Apple: Right, peace unto you and I would said to you as we said before, Sayonara.

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