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Kennedy Hails Contributions of Jewish Chaplains in Message to J. W. B.

President John F. Kennedy and Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara today hailed the 100th anniversary of the signing of an Acts of Congress which, for the first time, permitted ordained ministers of any religion to serve as chaplains in the United States Army. The act, signed by President Lincoln in 1862, permitted the appointment of the first Jewish chaplain in the U.S. Army, Ferdinand Sarner, who was commissioned in September of that year.

In a message sent to the 1962 national biennial convention of the National Jewish Welfare Board, President Kennedy described the act as “one of the landmarks on the road to complete religious equality.”