Beliefnet
The peak of the hurricane season is approaching and so are the Jewish High Holy Days. For scientists, this can mean only one thing:

They must summon Team Goyim, the non-Jewish scientists who fly aboard Hurricane Hunter planes during Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

The team's motto: "When hurricanes threaten during the High Holidays, it is time to call in 'Team Goyim'."

On Thursday, with newly born Tropical Storm Dolly growing in the Atlantic, that call went out from the government's Hurricane Research Division on Virginia Key:

If you're a hurricane scientist who is not likely to be in synagogue next week, you are likely to find yourself bumping through a tropical storm or hurricane.

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, begins at sundown next Friday, Sept. 6, and runs through sundown Sept. 8. Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, begins at sundown Sept. 15.

Goyim is a Hebrew term for "non-Jews."

"It's a little inside joke with us," said Michael Black, a manager for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who schedules scientists for the flights. "Don't worry, we say. 'Team Goyim will get the job done.'"

This is of only passing comfort for Jewish scientists at the research facility. Though dangerous and uncomfortable, missions aboard Hurricane Hunter flights are treasured, and scientists hate to miss an opportunity.

"The peak of the season is Sept. 10 or 11 and the High Holidays nearly always fall in September, and this always becomes an issue," said research meteorologist Stanley Goldenberg, one of about a half-dozen Jewish scientists in the division.

"I always look at the calender early in the year and say, 'Oy vey.' This year, I saw that the holidays came on Sept. 7 and 8, and I said, 'Oh, come on now.'"

On Thursday, Goldenberg sent an e-mail to Black and others, reminding them of the looming calendrical conflict. Though exceptions can be made if lives are endangered, observant Jews avoid work and many other activities on religious holidays and the Sabbath.

"As we are approaching a few possibly active weeks in the season, I wanted to give you an early warning concerning the upcoming Jewish High Holidays," he wrote.

As luck would have it, at almost the same time, forecasters were announcing that a tropical depression had developed in the distant Atlantic, posing no immediate threat to land. Later Thursday, it became Tropical Storm Dolly.

"The bell just rang in the tropical Atlantic," said forecaster Lixion Avila of the National Hurricane Center in West Miami-Dade. "Hello, Dolly."

In response, Black began organizing a Hurricane Hunter flight to the Caribbean islands, where the plane and crew will be positioned for further duty.

Each mission needs two to six scientists. As Black prepares the schedule, he will be thinking about who is Jewish and needs to be home for the holidays.

"We try to make sure they are covered and don't have to work," he said. "In an emergency, I know most of them would be willing to work, but we should have enough people to get the job done."

Black is a member of Team Goyim. Others include: Chris Landsea, John Gamache, Bob Black, Rob Rogers, Joe Cione, Peter Black, Neal Dorst, Hugh Willoughby, Paul Leighton, Jason Dunion and Peter Dodge.

Do they have esprit de goyim corps?

You betcha.

"As a matter of fact, I just sent Stan an e-mail," Dodge said. "I want a T-shirt."

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus