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JWB Jewish Chaplains Council® History and Overview

JWB Jewish Chaplains Council, Serving Jews Who Serve
For over 100 years in times of peace and war, JWB has proudly fulfilled a mission to support Jewish life in the U.S. armed forces and the Department of Veterans Affairs. JWB certifies and trains Jewish military chaplains and lay leaders, supports the expression of Judaism, cultural and religious heritage, and provides services and essential supplies that meet the religious, educational, and spiritual needs of Jewish military personnel and veterans, and their families. JWB chaplains and military lay leaders create and support Jewish communities across the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs in an inclusive and pluralistic manner responding to Jews of all backgrounds, often in far off and very dangerous places.

In these and in ways too numerous to mention, JWB serves the approximately 25,000 Jewish men and women in the United States armed forces and their families.

JWB is also an advocate representing their needs to all levels of the U.S. military and civilian leadership and the Veterans Administration. JWB is the recognized voice of the American Jewish community to the U.S. military and has ongoing relationships with key players across the Department of Defense (DOD). The United States government and especially the DOD identify JWB as the primary endorser of Jewish chaplains for the military, and the Jewish endorser representing a unified effort of the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox movements. JWB is a unique treasure of American Jewish life, governed equally by rabbinic leadership from the three movements, and supported in part by the Jewish Federations of North America through the National Federation/Agency Alliance. JWB serves to bring together all religious streams of Judaism and seek to meet the spiritual needs of all manner of religious and secular Jews in the military community and in Veterans Administration hospitals.

A Brief History of JWB Jewish Chaplains Council
In 1917, the Jewish Welfare Board or JWB was formed to serve religious and welfare needs of Jewish military personnel in World War I. Following the war, in addition to serving Jews in the military, JWB turned its attention to YM-YWHAs and JCCs to assist these organizations in assimilating Jewish immigrants and fostering Jewish community.

By the end of World War II, JWB was serving on five continents and in 588 communities. Of the 311 Jewish chaplains on duty, many offered aid to liberated concentration camp survivors. As the war ended, JWB joined the Veterans Administration Voluntary Service Program, providing volunteers for those who served our country, which connected JCCs directly to JWB’s core mission of serving Jews who serve.

Torahs for Our Troops, launched in 2009, to provide lightweight scrolls for chaplains to use in the field. At this time, the first JWB siddur, or prayerbook, was published since World War II. Also in 1990, JWB changed its name to JCC Association of North America. Today, JCC Association, through the JWB Jewish Chaplains Council®, remains dedicated to serving Jewish military personnel, their families, veterans, and Gold Star families.