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First Jewish Woman Chaplain Hails ‘invaluable’ Chance

Student-rabbi Julie Schwartz, the first Jewish woman to be sworn into the United States armed forces as a military chaplain, has expressed the view that “it’s very exciting to see women rabbis move into all aspects of religious life.”

Her comment was reported in the current issue of the “Chronicle,” the publication of the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion.

According to the HUC-JIR publication, she is spending the summer in Newport, R.I. at the U.S. Navy Chaplaincy school, accompanied by her husband and fellow rabbinic student, Steven Ballaban, also a fourth year student at the Reform seminary in Cincinnati. She will join the Navy after she is ordained in the summer of 1986. Her husband also has been sworn in as a member of the Navy’s Theological Program at Newport.

That program is offered for chaplaincy candidates of all faiths, according to a newsletter of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the association of American Reform rabbis. The newsletter said they will be the first husband-and-wife rabbinic team in the Armed Forces.

According to the “Chronicle,” the student-rabbi said her plans after ordination “are to continue in the Naval Reserves, together with holding a regular congregational position. My husband will pursue further studies while also a reserve chaplain.”

Schwartz said “this is an exciting and invaluable opportunity that can provide a completely different perspective on being a rabbi. People who are serving in the armed forces need support, and this is our chance to help meet the spiritual needs of Jewish men and women in the Navy.”

She said she was particularly pleased that she had been sworm into the Navy by Chaplain Edward Rosenthal, also a Reform rabbinic student.

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