First Rabbi Promoted to Rank of Brigadier General
Menu JTA Search

First Rabbi Promoted to Rank of Brigadier General

Download PDF for this date

For the first time in United States military history a rabbi has been promoted to the rank of Brigadier General, it was announced here by the West Point Jewish Chapel Fund.

Rabbi Israel Drazin, 48, a practicing attorney serving in the U.S. Army reserves as Colonel in the Army Chaplaincy, was nominated for his new rank by President Reagan. The U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination. Army officials then waived the usual waiting period for a vacancy and immediately promoted Drazin to Brigadier General.

Drazin was recalled to active service in 1981 to prepare the government’s defense against a law suit that challenged the constitutionality of the Army Chaplaincy. The government won the case last February.

“Feelings of honor come with every promotion,” Drazin said. “However, as the first rabbi ever to reach the rank of Brigadier General, I feel a profound sense of pride, patriotism and responsibility. I hope that my achievements in the Army, along with the completion of the Jewish Chapel at West Point, will convince more Jewish young men and women that there is a rewarding and fruitful career for them in the Army.”

Drazin is the Army’s Assistant Chief of Chaplains in charge of the mobilization of Army chaplains in the event of war. There are 1,500 chaplains in the Army on active duty, 24 of whom are Jewish.

The Army has assigned a Jewish chaplain to West Point, the site of the new Jewish chapel. This is the first time, since the inception of the Military Academy, that a full-time Jewish chaplain will be available to Jewish cadets. In addition to his role as a rabbi and military chaplain, Drazin is a successful attorney and psychologist, and earned a doctorate in Aramaic literature. He is a graduate of the Army’s Command and General Staff College, and teaches Hebrew heritage at Howard Community College.

Ordained a rabbi in 1957, Drazin was the youngest rabbi to ever serve on active duty. He is a member of the Rabbinical Council of America (Orthodox), and resides in Maryland with his wife and children.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund