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Become a Chaplain: Serving Jews Who Serve

Jewish Military Chaplains: Meeting the needs of Jews who serve


Becoming a military chaplain through JWB Jewish Chaplains Council means joining a proud 100+ year legacy in service to our nearly 4,000-year-old Jewish tradition. The rabbis who have served our nation in the military have done so in times of war and during peacetime, often far from Jewish life as most of us know it. As a military rabbi you will be an anchor for the Jewish men and women who serve, and for their families, while daily representing Jews and Judaism to those of other faiths who fill the ranks of our armed forces.

Why serve as a chaplain candidate?

    • You will learn how to effectively provide for the spiritual needs of our nation’s armed forces.
    • You will be commissioned as an officer in the United States military and develop leadership skills that come along with military rank.
    • You will receive competitive pay and benefits for your training and your internship time.
    • You will experience the rewards and challenges of working on a diverse chapel team alongside chaplains of different faiths.
    • You will see the world. The government pays for your travel on active duty training tours, enabling you to serve at installations near or far from home.

Chaplain candidates have no obligation to the military once ordained. However, should you choose active duty or reserve chaplaincy as a career upon ordination, having served as a chaplain candidate will give you a head start with significant advantages in pay.

A Congregation Like No Other

When you serve Jews who serve our nation in uniform, you have a congregation unlike any other. One day you could be flying in a helicopter to lead a Seder, another might find you leading the Torah service on board a Navy aircraft carrier at sea. Each day brings change and challenges singular to this unique rabbinate.

You will have an opportunity to make a significant contribution to the emotional and spiritual well-being of the young men and women who have committed themselves to serving our nation. You will offer the wisdom of our tradition to guide them personally, while helping to safeguard the ideals upon which the United States of America was founded.

You will build Jewish community, often where little or none exists.

Like any rabbi, you will conduct worship services for Jewish personnel and their families and perform lifecycle events. However, as a JWB chaplain, you will also travel the world and work with clergy of other faiths, while caring for service men and women of other faiths.

Unlike other rabbis, while ensuring the free exercise of religion, you will have the opportunity to advise senior military officers, at all levels, regarding the morale, ethics and spiritual wellbeing of troops. And you will have the opportunity to form a network of colleagues from all military branches and across the spectrum of Jewish practice. You will also be the military commander’s primary subject matter expert on the free exercise of religion for those of other faiths.

Interested in becoming a JWB chaplain?

To qualify you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen between the ages of 21
    and 42 years old
  • Meet certain medical and physical fitness standards
  • Hold a bachelor’s degree with not less than 120 semester hours from a qualified educational institution; and hold a post-baccalaureate graduate degree with not less than 72 semester hours in theological or related studies
  • Seek the opportunity of a lifetime

JWB Chaplains receive benefits that include:

  • With Active Duty service:
    A competitive salary with tax-free allowances for housing and meals, and 30 days’ vacation with pay earned every year. Plus, comprehensive medical and dental coverage (which includes family).
  • With Reserve service:
    Benefit from supplemental income (the equivalent of four-days’ pay for only 16 hours worked each drill weekend and two weeks of paid training each year). Low-cost life insurance options. Plus, VA home loans (based on service commitment).
  • With either service option:
    Scheduled pay raises, regular promotions and retirement benefits. Tax-free shopping privileges at military stores and access to officers’ clubs and recreational facilities. Plus, free or low-cost travel opportunities.

Not sure about a military career?

You don’t have to make that commitment today. But the skills you develop through the chaplain candidate program are desirable and transferable throughout Jewish organizational work, whether you choose to make your career at a synagogue, in education, at a Hillel, or in any other Jewish setting. Additionally, chaplain candidacy exposes you to opportunities not available in everyday civilian settings, and offers a unique and meaningful way to support Jews who serve and defend our nation in uniform.

Become a part of the 100 year legacy of JWB Jewish Chaplains Council and serve Jews who serve.

Interested in becoming a JWB chaplain, or speaking with a chaplain about their work?
Contact Rabbi Irv Elson, Vice President and Director, JWB Jewish Chaplains Council or Rabbi Tracy Kaplowitz, Director of Operations, JWB Jewish Chaplains Council
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