In the annals of military fashion, surely there is no more creative presence than Mendy Katz, inventor of the camouflage yarmulke.

As director of military services for the Aleph Institute, Rabbi Katz fields thousands of requests each year from Jews in the armed forces, from Travis Air Force base in Texas to an army encampment in northern Iraq.

“Thank you so much for the menorah, booklet, Chanukah candles and dreidel,” wrote one soldier who opened his package in Tikrit as members of his unit captured Saddam Hussein.

“The response we received to our Chanukah offer this year was overwhelming,” says Katz, who dispatched 1,500 packages worldwide, including to active combat zones. “Between all of the various service branches involved in our war with terrorism and Al Qaeda – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, CIA, FBI and State Department – there are an unprecedented number of Jews protecting our country who need religious support.”

The Florida-based Aleph Institute has been supplying free prayer books, ritual materials and holiday packages to Jewish military since 1995. The range of services has expanded along with U.S. military deployment to include free Jewish educational audio tapes and a wide range of printed materials. The most popular by far is a wallet-sized booklet, “Courage and Safety Through Faith and Trust in G‑d,” that can be carried into combat. It includes the “Shema” prayer (“Hear O Israel”), several key psalms and an inspirational rabbinical message written for troops during World War II.

Thanks to generous private donations, Aleph is able to provide its services free of charge, with no obligation of continuing association. The sole exception is a request for reimbursement of transport costs when Aleph airlifts in teams of Chabad rabbis to lead High Holy Day services at remote military installations lacking a Jewish chaplain. One of the most popular ventures in this category are the High Holy Day services held aboard an aircraft carrier each year for sailors assigned to Guantanomo Bay, Cuba.

But the most meaningful service Aleph provides, according to Jewish troops, is the round-the-clock moral support available through the e-mail network created especially for Jewish military, their families and their congregations back home.

“What you do means so much to us,” one military veteran wrote recently to the Aleph site’s guestbook. “You can’t imagine how hard it is to be a Jew in the Marines.”

Katz, for one, can. Which is why he has several gross of custom headgear at hand at any time to send troops who discover after enlistment that the military only permits yarmulkes if they match a soldier, sailor or airman’s uniform.

(Note to chaplains: In addition to camouflage, they’re available in Delta Force black, Navy blue, dress white, Air Force khaki and Army green).