Oped by Rabbi Elie Estrin: Recently, there has been a spate of articles bemoaning the state of affairs in Shlichus. Many valid points are being made, but one critical element needs to be clarified: Shlichus IS still available, and Uncle Sam will foot the bill.
By Rabbi Elie Estrin
Recently, there has been a spate of articles bemoaning the state of affairs in Shlichus. Many valid points are being made, but one critical element needs to be clarified:
Shlichus IS still available, and Uncle Sam will foot the bill.
Here’s the deal – the US military is looking for Jewish chaplains to serve on Active Duty! (“Active Duty” refers to full time military enlistment; “Reserves” or “National Guard” are typically part-time involvement.)
We know the military sounds like a “vilde zach” for many people, but the fact is, the Rebbe encouraged many rabbonim to serve this special population, encouraging them vigorously throughout their various experiences. Aderaba – if you truly want shlichus, this is your chance to give it a shot! Join the military for a 4-year Active Duty contract.
You and your family will be considered Shluchim under Merkos through the Aleph Institute as long as you remain in Active Duty. After your contract is up, you will have the opportunity to continue your Active Duty career, as a Reservist, or conclude it. The choice remains yours and your family’s.
At the time of this writing, there are 5 shluchim serving on Shlichus in each branch of the US military, with more in the pipeline. The Aleph Institute will be hosting an Information Booth at the Kinus Resource Fair, as well as a special Information Session to be held on Monday, Nov. 21 from 12:00 – 2:00 at the Shluchim Office, featuring current serving Lubavitcher military chaplains. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and even begin the application process. But if you’re intrigued already, please visit our website.
- A Bachelor’s Degree with 120 university credits
- 72 credits towards a Master’s Degree (which can be your Semicha, if the Semicha comes from an accredited institution)
- A minimum of 2 years of Rabbinic experience. Depending on the length of your rabbinic experience, you will enter as a commissioned officer, with the rank of either a First Lieutenant or a Captain.
- You must be physically fit. Google “military fitness requirements” for your age group to see the exact standards.
- You must have good interpersonal skills, be able to operate in a non-Jewish environment, and have a strong and stable sense of Yiddishkeit.
- For Active Duty military Shlichus, one must be married. Singles may apply for the Reserves.
- A military chaplain has several responsibilities:
- Religious Accommodation: He provides for the religious needs of all under his care. While specifically being responsible for the Jews and the Jewish programs on his base, he also works with chaplains of other faiths to ensure everyone has their needs met. (The chaplains all work under the commander’s auspices, as the ultimate responsibility for the religious program is the commander’s.) At no time would you be required to conduct a religious service for a non-Jewish faith group.
- Morale: The chaplain is an officer whose responsibility is to spend time with his troops and assess their needs. He must be capable of counseling and uplifting people in any situation.
- Advising Commanders: A chaplain serves as an advisor to the commander on religion, morale and ethics. He must be able to give commanders sensible advice, so the commanders can make the best decisions possible in whatever circumstance they find themselves – whether that refers to wartime decisions or personnel decisions. The chaplain himself has no command authority.
- Confidentiality: The chaplain must maintain privileged communication and confidentiality.
- A chaplain is a non-combatant – he does not carry or discharge weapons. (In a war zone, he is accompanied by Religious Affairs personnel, who is a combatant and serves as his bodyguard.)
Each of the branches of the military (Army, Air Force and Navy; the Marines and Coast Guard use Navy Chaplains) have their own style and operations; and that includes how they deploy and use chaplains. However, they also share much in common. You will be given the opportunity to live on base with your family, and receive a competitive salary that increases with your years in service and promotions in rank, along with excellent benefits – including healthcare for you and your family and life insurance. You’ll be given the opportunity to serve in a host of worldwide assignments. Become part of a family of dedicated chaplains, including several outstanding Lubavitcher Chassidim, as we serve our country while representing the Rebbe and Yiddishkeit to Jews in uniform, making a Kiddush Shem Shamayim!
Did you know:
Every one of the Rebbeim from the Tzemach Tzedek onward made significant amounts of effort to help Jewish soldiers? In fact, the Tzemach Tzedek had an open-door policy for any soldier – if a Jew came dressed in military uniform, they were permitted to walk straight into his office, no questions asked!
The Rebbe Rashab went to incredible lengths to send matzos for Pesach and arrange kosher food for soldiers.
The Frierdiker Rebbe wrote a famous letter and booklet with special Tefillos to be distributed to every Jew in the Armed Forces.
Our Rebbe convinced several rabbis to become military chaplains and was involved in several fascinating cases involving Jews in the US military.