The Miller Chapel is a relatively recent addition to the Naval Academy, but has proven to be a spiritual focal point for our Jewish community. Miller Chapel is housed in the Commodore Uriah P. Levy Center, and they were dedicated and opened for use on September 18, 2005. The ground breaking took place on November 2, 2003. The Friends of the Jewish Chapel and our Jewish midshipmen gather here weekly for Shabbat Services as well as the other Holy Days throughout the year. Miller Chapel is truly a sacred space where our Jewish community and all are able to be spiritually fed in a way that the typical attendee would be looking for the manna coming from heaven.
In the Jewish tradition, the reading of the Torah Scroll is a central part of worship, and the Shabbat services in Miller Chapel also continue to incorporate that important aspect to worship each time the community gathers The Torah are housed at the front of the chapel in a gorgeous ark designed to protect our Torah scrolls and present them with the reverence they are due. The inscription at the top of the ark reminds all that worship there "before whom they stand" as they offer there their prayers.
At the rear of the Miller Chapel as you come in for prayers and worship, a single lighted candle stands as a reminder to all who worship their of the fragility of life and the realities of war with the MIA Candle. As we remember those lost in acts of war, we are also reminded of the eternal presence of God with the sanctuary lamp or Ner Tamid above the ark at the front of chapel.
Every aspect of Miller Chapel's architecture was very carefully thought through, planned and executed in order to be as faithful to the Jewish worshipping community as possible, and further strengthen and enhance their spiritual experience and ties to the Holy Land. The worship space itself closely resembles a ship to make that strong connection to our nautical roots. The mosaic tile floor is designed in such a way as to cause the Bimah (raised area where the Rabbi or other worship leader will read the Torah scroll from) to appear to be raised even more than it is.
The horrors that the Jewish people have endured throughout the centuries, including the Holocaust of the 20th Century, have not been lost on our Jewish worshipping community. The faithfulness and assistance of people like Commodore Uriah P. Levy, President George Washington, and President Thomas Jefferson stand as a reminder and encouragement to Jewish people even today.