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JWB Jewish Chaplains Council

Supporting Jewish men and women who serve our country is at the heart of all we do.

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Did you know?

  • More than 300 JWB chaplains served in World War II
  • Won the right for Jews to wear kippot and beards in the military
  • Advocated for time for religious observance (such as Shiva periods)
  • Lobbied for Kosher rations in U.S. military
  • Continues to provide holiday packages for those in service
  • Torahs for Our Troops in Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and New Dawn
  • Published a new siddur, or prayer book, with cooperation from all three major Jewish denominations
 
 
Whether lobbying Congress so that a Marine can wear his kippah (ritual head covering) in service, providing a seder for soldiers stationed at a remote base in Afghanistan, or raising awareness of Jews in the military, JWB Jewish Chaplains Council is there. Our role, since 1917, has been to safeguard the rights, fulfill the spiritual needs, combat the loneliness and isolation and honor the service of Jews in the United States armed forces. We endorse Jewish chaplains to the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, augmenting their resources and advocating on matters of policy.

Founded as the Jewish Welfare Board, the first national organization to represent a loose coalition of Young Men’s Hebrew Associations, our initial role was to support young men heading into service during World War I. This included the Chaplains’ Committee of the JWB, which until recently, served as the sole endors­ing body for Jewish chaplains in the military and Veterans Administration. So successful was JWB in its advocacy, that it remained an organization after the war ended, eventually focusing primarily on two areas: Jewish Community Centers and Jews serving in the military. The council includes 16 rabbis, four each from the Central Conference of American Rabbis (Reform), the Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative), and the Rabbinical Council of America (Orthodox), plus four active-duty Jewish chaplains representing the Chaplains Advisory Group (CAG). The Chaplains Council provides full support services to Jewish chap­lains, and administers ecclesiastical approval for chaplain candidates and Jewish lay leaders in the military, and is the only organization that endorses chaplains from all streams of Judaism.

Those two roles come together when JWB empowers JCCs to be community leaders on outreach and the engagement of service members and veterans. Through Project Welcome Home, JWB has helped expand the role of JCCs in the Jewish community, positioning them as leaders in the field in creating a connection between military personnel, veterans and the Jewish community. JWB helps JCCs live the ideals of creating and supporting diverse Jewish communities and building Jewish identity.

Contact Janine Acevedo for more information at 212-786-5090 or jacevedo@jcca.org.

Contact

Rabbi Irving Elson

Heads JWB Jewish Chaplains Council and JCC Association Armed Forces and Veterans Services Committee. Recruits rabbis to serve in the armed forces and veterans affairs chaplaincies. Directs professional training conferences and lay leadership workshops. Advises the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs on matters of Jewish welfare in the Armed Forces and at Veterans Hospitals. Visits US Armed Forces bases and installations worldwide.

Contact Rabbi Irving

Rabbi Tracy Kaplowitz

Rabbi Tracy J. Kaplowitz, Ph.D., is the director of operations of JWB Jewish Chaplains Council, JCC Association’s signature program that endorses, trains and supports Jewish military chaplains who, in turn, provide support and spiritual guidance to Jewish service members and veterans, as well as to those of other faiths.

Kaplowitz has close to 15 years of experience as a spiritual leader and educator and as a chaplain in the U.S. Armed Forces. She previously worked with the Schechter School of Long Island and the Jewish Education Project, as well as on the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

Kaplowitz was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS) and holds a doctorate in the sociology of education from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She earned her master’s degree in Jewish education from JTS, and a bachelor’s degree from JTS and Barnard College. Kaplowitz lives in Huntington, New York with her husband, Dr. Jonathan Boxer, and their three children.

Contact Rabbi Tracy