April 23, 2019

Family Reunites Following Father’s Deployment to Afghanistan

On March 15, Tamar, Batsheva and Yudi Scheinfeld got the surprise of their lives when their father, Maj. Moses Scheinfeld, returned home from his nine-month Army deployment in Afghanistan.

The siblings, who attend Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy in Beverly Hills, were attending a multigrade school assembly and had no idea what was in store.  

“Our teacher gets excited about every holiday, and this holiday was Purim,” said Batsheva, 11. “I thought he was going to dress up and run around, and everyone was wondering why fourth grade was there, because fourth grade is usually not there.” 

“I was really bored,” 9-year-old Yudi told the Journal. “But when I saw my dad, then I wasn’t bored and I ran up and hugged him.” 

Harkham Hillel Rabbi Y. Boruch Sufrin helped coordinate the surprise with the help of the children’s mother, Rivka. She had just picked up her husband that morning and immediately rushed to the school.

“It was very hush-hush,” Rivka said. “We knew he was coming home before Purim. [The kids] were shocked. They were so happy that he was back.”

“This country has been great to the Jewish people, and a way of repaying that is by joining the military.”
— Maj. Moses Scheinfeld

Moses, originally from Manhattan, has been in the Army for more than a decade after taking part in the ROTC program at Rice University in Houston. Moses said while he didn’t grow up in a military family, serving in the Army as a Jew means a great deal to him.

Moses Scheinfeld reuniting with his children; Photo courtesy of Rivka Scheinfeld

“I think I was always interested in [the Army],” Moses, 53 said. “Being Jewish and being in this country [relates to] this idea of hakarat hatov, which is this very important idea in Judaism. It means gratitude and recognizing the good. This country has been great to the Jewish people, and a way of repaying that is by joining the military.” 

While he was away, teachers and friends in the community were there to step in and look after the family.

“The teachers were really good to them and watched over them; they always made sure they were OK,” Rivka said. 

One of their teachers even introduced them to an unlimited children’s books app called Epic that would become Yudi’s new obsession.

“I learned a lot about the Army and hopefully I want to be in it when I grow up,” Yudi said. “I learned about Rangers and all that stuff, and training, and, yeah, I want to be in it.”

It’s now three weeks since Moses came home, and while the children are busy with school and extracurricular activities, Moses is enjoying being in the moment with his loved ones. The family sat with the Journal before Shabbat in their home in Beverlywood to talk about life with their patriarch back home. 

The kids said they were happy to be able to celebrate Purim together. Asked what the best part about having their dad back was, the oldest, Tamar, 12, quietly replied, “Him just being around.” 

“I’ve been away [when] Tamar was in a championship [basketball] game and she played with Shaquille O’Neal’s daughter. I was training in France,” Moses said. “That’s a very common phenomenon among parents in the military. … You go away for long periods of time and you miss things.” 

Fortunately, Tamar and Yudi both have birthdays coming up soon that the family will get to celebrate together. Their wish list of activities with their father during Passover break includes rock climbing, roller-coaster rides and a possible Disney cruise.

“So we can catch up on nine months and three days,” Yudi said.