Rabbi Mendel Silberstein, who every week phones in from his New York office to offer spiritual guidance and support to a handful of Jewish soldiers thousands of miles away in Afghanistan, was honored for his efforts in the form of a specially-minted badge issued by the multinational force charged with training that country’s young army and police units.

Emblazoned with the face of an eagle and the colors of Afghanistan and the United States, the two-inch round award was accompanied by a certificate when it arrived last month at Chabad-Lubavitch of Larchmont and Mamaroneck, N.Y.

Signed by U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Richard P. Formica, the commanding officer of the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, the certificate lauds Silberstein “for outstanding support to the Jewish community at Camp Eggers.”

“Rabbi Silberstein’s devotion to a congregation separated from traditional support, contributed to our overall religious support mission,” continues the citation, “and provided spiritual strength for those who attended.”

Silberstein, who was invited by Col. David Everett, a friend and community member on duty abroad, to lead Friday afternoon gatherings at the Kabul base, said that Formica had apparently read of the pre-Shabbat classes in media reports.

“The general read the article on Chabad.org,” said the rabbi.

Lt. Col. Les Melnyk, a spokesman for the Department of Defense, said that awards such as Silberstein’s are one of the few ways that bases and commands can honor civilian personnel and volunteers.

With few exceptions, the military as a whole doesn’t “have the ability to give medals to civilians,” he explained. So, “it’s significant.”