Each year the National Bible Association awards the prestigious Witherspoon Award to one chaplain from each military service branch, recognizing special creativity and achievement in inspiring others to read the Scriptures. This year’s Navy recipient is LT Josh Sherwin. Endorsed by JWB Jewish Chaplains Council in 2009, Chaplain Sherwin has served with the second Marine division out of Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, deploying to Afghanistan, and is currently stationed at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
Retired Admiral Rabbi Harold Robinson, director of JWB Jewish Chaplains Council, said, “We are very proud of Josh and his work, encouraging men and women to engage more deeply and thoughtfully with the Scriptures.” A division of JCC Association, JWB Jewish Chaplains Council is a government approved agency that endorses Jewish chaplains for the armed forces and provides support for Jewish military personnel and their families as well as veterans. “It’s an honor that my colleagues submitted me for [the award],” Sherwin said. He will receive the Witherspoon Prize at a gala dinner in New York City.
The National Bible Association states, “Chaplain Sherwin exemplifies the mission of the Chaplain Corps, and is consistently engaged with creative and innovative programming to encourage others not just to read the Bible, but also to engage with the text and to apply it to daily life.” The award, named after the famous World War I and II Chaplain Maurice Witherspoon is given to three chaplains of the U.S. Armed Forces who demonstrate and promote Bible reading in a unique and effective way over the course of one year. Chaplain Sherwin is the second rabbi to be presented with the Witherspoon Award; the first was Major Carlos Huerta, West Point chaplain, in 2011.
Rabbi Sherwin organized an interfaith trip to Israel for a group of midshipmen, and in preparation, the 30 participants attended sessions detailing the development of the three Abrahamic faiths. A Protestant chaplain spoke on Christianity, a professor of Islam lectured on Mohammed, and an expert on modern Israel talked about the development of the Jewish state. A diverse group of Jews, Christians, a Buddhist, agnostics and atheists went on the 10 day trip over spring break, visiting sites holy to the three monotheistic faiths. They also traveled to the north, and “people were shocked at how small and green Israel is,” Sherwin said.
The National Bible Association is a nonprofit, educational association that provides a platform to encourage people to read the Bible. Created in 1940 by a group of business and professional leaders in New York City, it has focused exclusively on encouraging America to read the Bible in every sector of society regardless of religious or political distinction. The Association also sponsors National Bible Week.