LONDON (JTA) — Britain’s Ministry of Defense appointed its first civilian Jewish chaplain.
Rabbi Arnold Saunders will be responsible for the spiritual and pastoral care of Jewish military personnel in all three services.
"I am looking forward with relish and excitement to the challenges that lie ahead and look forward to working with my fellow CCMs [civilian chaplains to the military] and all military chaplains” Saunders said following Tuesday’s announcement.
Saunders has had a long association with the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women and is an honorary chaplain for the group. He holds a commission in the Territorial Army as an Army Cadet Force chaplain serving Greater Manchester ACF.
On announcing Saunders’ appointment, the Venerable Stephen Robbins QHC, chaplain general to the UK armed forces, said that "The arrival of Rabbi Saunders will ensure that the tri-Service chaplaincy is able to provide for the spiritual support, pastoral care and moral guidance for all servicemen and women of the Jewish faith."
Saunders, a Manchester native, has held the pulpit at several synagogues and most recently served as religious director at Heathlands Village in Manchester, a Jewish care complex. He served as the spiritual leader from 1990 until 2005 at the Higher Broughton Synagogue in Manchester (Orthodox) and is now the rabbi emeritus there.
He also has been involved with interfaith work and regularly lectures in schools. Saunders writes a weekly Bible column in the Jewish Telegraph and often appears on local radio and television.