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JWB Jewish Chaplains Council® Awards Scholarships to Rabbinic Students

Irving S. Weinstein Philanthropic Funds Supports Students

NEW YORK JWB Jewish Chaplains Council®, a signature program of JCC Association of North America, recently awarded scholarships to three rabbinical students who are chaplain candidates in the military reserve and have demonstrated enthusiasm for military chaplaincy through their endeavors. Funding for the scholarships, which is to be used for rabbinical school tuition and fees, was made possible by a generous grant from the Irving S. Weinstein Philanthropic Funds.

The Weinstein scholarships are the outgrowth of a comprehensive study JWB commissioned in 2019 to increase the number of  rabbinical students and rabbis recruited into the armed forces. By removing financial impediments to rabbinical studies and ordination—and requiring one tour of full-time active duty chaplaincy—the scholarships promote interest and enrollment in chaplain candidate programs in the military. According to Jerry Weinstein, on behalf of the trustees of the Weinstein Philanthropic Funds:

We proudly support the scholarship program of JWB Jewish Chaplains Council®. The benefactor, my uncle, Irving Weinstein, a veteran of World War II, proudly served in the U.S. Army Air Corps and was stationed in Savannah, Georgia, where he likely  was the only Jewish man on the base. He was embraced by a local Jewish family and from those days forward, he became intensely proud of his faith and the U.S. military. We know of no better way of honoring him and his values but through this scholarship program. We wish the current recipients well in their journey, and we are hopeful that knowledge about the scholarship’s benefactor will further inspire them.

The three scholarship recipients, each of whom will serve as full-time, active duty military chaplains for a minimum of three years following ordination are:

Elias Chajet, a Virginia native, who holds a bachelor’s degree in Judaic studies from Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. Following graduation, he was an education fellow for the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life in Jackson, Mississippi, before beginning rabbinic studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, spending the first year of study in Jerusalem and now on the seminary’s Los Angeles campus, where he is a third-year student. Chajet also is a Jewish Center for Justice seminary fellow, and a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy in the Chaplain Candidate Program.

Matthew Derrenbacher is a third-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) and is a chaplain candidate for the United States Air Force. He also holds two student pulpits at Reform congregations—Temple Beth-El in Brownsville, Texas, and Temple B’nai Israel in Petoskey, Michigan—where he leads services, provides chaplaincy services, leads Torah study and adult education sessions, and teaches b’nai mitzvah students. Derrenbacher earned a B.A. degree in religious studies from Nazareth College of Rochester and a master’s degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He attended Officer Training School for the United States Air Force during the summer of 2020, studies at the Cincinnati campus of HUC-JIR, and serves his congregations in Michigan and Texas.

Stefanie Gedan is a third-year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, New York. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelor’s degree in Jewish studies with a concentration in modern Hebrew. Prior to entering rabbinical school, Gedan was a fellow at Yeshivat Hadar in New York City. She is the student rabbi at the Fitzgerald Hebrew Congregation in Fitzgerald, Georgia, and a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy in the Chaplain Candidate Program.

For information about U.S. Army chaplain candidate scholarships, contact JWB Jewish Chaplains Council®.

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About JWB Jewish Chaplains Council®

JWB Jewish Chaplains Council® (JWB) is a nonprofit, U.S. government-accredited agency that serves the religious needs of Jewish military personnel and their families, wherever they serve, as well as patients in VA hospitals. Founded in 1917, on the cusp of World War I, the Jewish Welfare Board (JWB), as it was known at the time, sought to serve young Jewish men entering the military. Today, JWB Jewish Chaplains Council®, a signature program of JCC Association of North America, continues this work by honoring the service of Jewish men and women in the United States armed forces, safeguarding their rights, fulfilling their spiritual needs, and combating loneliness and isolation.

About JCC Association of North America

JCC Association of North America leads and connects the JCC Movement, advancing and enriching North American Jewish life. With 1.5 million people walking through the doors of more than 170 Jewish Community Centers and Jewish Community Camps (JCCs) each week, the JCC Movement is the largest platform for Jewish engagement on the continent. JCC Association, the convening organization of this dynamic network, partners with JCCs to bring together the collective power and knowledge of the entire JCC Movement, including 12,000 full-time and 41,000 part-time and seasonal professionals. By supporting them, together we enhance and strengthen Jewish life throughout North America. Learn more at or on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.




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