By Chaplain (Colonel) Jacob Goldstein, Command Chaplain, 1st Mission Support Command, Ft Buchanan, Puerto Rico
I have served as a Chaplain in the US military for nearly 35 years. Something like this I assure you has never happened in all my years.
It was four years ago when the Chief of Chaplains, Douglas Carver, asked me to suggest the keynote speaker for the conference of the leading Chaplains of the US Army. He told me that he wanted finally to give the chaplains a “Jewish perspective.” Usually, Bill Graham or someone of that stature was the Guest Speaker for this event, which set the spiritual agenda and gave the fuel to thousands of military chaplains.
“Get me the Jewish Billy Graham,” Chaplain Carver told me.
One year later, in a speech hailed by one priest as the most inspiring talk since Martin Luther King Jr., Chabad Rabbi and international lecturer, Yosef Yitzchak Jacobson, addressed the Chief of Chaplains Senior Leader’s Training Conference in March, 2008. Rabbi Jacobson was the first rabbi to ever address the United States Military’s premier annual chaplaincy event.
Now, for the next conference beginning next week, Rabbi Jacobson was invited once again to deliver the key-note.
The US military chaplaincy consists of thousands of Christian Chaplains and only a few Jews and Muslims. For them to once again bring in a Jewish rabbi to deliver the key note address, yearning to glean from the wisdom of the Torah for their chaplaincy work, is nothing less than astounding.
During the five-day upcoming conference, General Carver and other senior military leaders will help give guidance to the thousands of Chaplains in the US Army. Rabbi Jacobson will present the main address, entitled “Living Our Call, Loving Our Soldiers.” The Army chaplaincy theme for this year.
As a Chaplain Colonel and the most senior ranking Jewish chaplain in the US military today, I can testify to the Kiddush Hashem, Rabbi Jacobson made last time. I am sure this time there will be no different. In one hour, he transformed the perception of nearly 1000 senior chaplains and NCO’s on Jews, Judaism and the Torah. At the end of his talk, Rabbi Jacobson was met with a thunderous standing ovation and a request that he extend a prayer for the Chaplains. Chaplain Carver said at that time “I want you back again to inspire the Chaplain Corps.”
Rabbi Jacobson is one of the most sought after speakers in the Jewish world today. He is not a stranger to large lectures. But in his words, “I never get this rare opportunity of sharing the wisdom of the Lubavitcher Rebbe with close to 1000 senior chaplains and NCO’s ” senior military leaders.