Arnold Resnicoff

Arnold Resnicoff
Arnold E. Resnicoff

Rabbi Arnold E. Resnicoff
Religion Judaism
Nationality American
Born October 10, 1946 (1946-10-10) (age 65)
Washington, D.C.
Religious career
Ordination Rabbi, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1976
Previous post Command Chaplain, U.S. European Command
U.S. National Director, Interreligious Affairs, American Jewish Committee
Special Assistant for Values and Vision, Secretary and Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force
Present post Consultant, Interfaith values and interreligious affairs

Arnold E. Resnicoff (born 1946) is an American Conservative rabbi, a decorated retired military officer and military chaplain, and a consultant on leadership, values, and interreligious affairs to military and civilian leaders. His military career began in the rivers of Vietnam's Mekong Delta, followed by assignments with Naval Intelligence in Europe, before his decision to attend rabbinical school, at the urging of a Protestant Chaplain in Vietnam.[1] Following ordination as a rabbi, he served with the Navy for almost 25 additional years as a U.S. Navy Chaplain. After retiring from the military, his positions included appointments as National Director of Interreligious Affairs for the American Jewish Committee and Special Assistant (for Values and Vision) to the Secretary (SECAF) and Chief of Staff (CSAF) of the United States Air Force, serving at the equivalent military rank of Brigadier General. He was part of the small group of Vietnam veterans who fought for the creation of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, delivering the closing prayer at its 1982 dedication; and in 1984, the President of the United States devoted an entire speech to the reading of Resnicoff's eye witness account of the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing.

Resnicoff holds a Bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College; Masters degrees from The Jewish Theological Seminary of America (Rabbinics), Salve Regina University (International Relations), and the Naval War College (Strategic Studies and National Security Affairs); and a doctorate (honoris causa), in addition to rabbinic ordination, from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (Rabbinic Studies).[2] He is a graduate of many military schools and courses, including the Defense Language Institute and the Joint Forces Staff College. In addition to special presentations at military and civilian educational institutions around the world, he served as an instructor for Salve Regina, The Naval War College, the Naval Chaplains School, and the overseas branch of the University of Maryland University College. He has received numerous military and civilian awards including the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Air Force Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service, and the Chapel of Four Chaplains Hall of Heroes Gold Medallion.


Life and works

Early military career (prior to rabbinic ordination)

Vietnam 1970, wearing the black beret of the "brown-water navy"

Resnicoff was raised with a deep sense of pride in both Judaism and America, and a sense of responsibility to help both remain forces for good, and for hope, in the world.[3] "My father said a day did not go by when his father didn't thank God they had made it to America. They knew what it was like not to have freedom. [...] We [Americans] represent something special in the world, and we often take it for granted," Resnicoff has said. "We come together from different backgrounds, heritages, and religions, but then work "together to build a better country and a better world."[4]

Resnicoff's father, Jack Resnicoff, came to the United States as a three year old, when his own father—Mnachem Risikoff, an Orthodox rabbi in Russia—escaped to America from Russia, in search of religious freedom. Jack Resnicoff, a descendant of a long line of rabbis, including his grandfather, Zvi Yosef Resnick, a famous Rosh yeshivah, rabbinical school head, in Russia, was a World War II Navy veteran who openly shared his hope that his son (the oldest of three boys) would also volunteer for at least one tour of duty with the military, as one way for the family to continue to "pay its dues" to America.[5][6]

Following college graduation, he served as communications officer and assistant operations officer onboard USS Hunterdon County (LST-838), a WWII tank landing ship that had been converted for riverine warfare in Vietnam, operating as part of Operation Game Warden, with the mission of keeping the rivers free of Viet Cong infiltrators.[3] He was on board Hunterdon County on May 12, 1970, serving as Junior Officer of the Deck (JOOD), when it became the first commissioned vessel to enter the territorial waters of Cambodia.[7] During his service in Vietnam, he was approached by a circuit-riding Navy Protestant Chaplain (Episcopal Priest), Fr. Lester Westling, Jr., who appointed him the Jewish Lay Leader[8] for the Mekong Delta, and later urged him to consider studying for the rabbinate at the end of his Navy commitments.[1] After his assignment in Vietnam, Resnicoff was accepted for duty with Naval Intelligence (Naval Security Group), first attending Russian language training at the Defense Language Institute (DLI), Monterey, California, and then working with the United States Sixth Fleet, in Europe, from his base of operations in Rota, Spain.

Rabbinical school

Two of Resnicoff's rabbinical school teachers and mentors, Albert L. Lewis (sitting) and Philip Alstat (center, standing), sign his ketubah, wedding document, for his marriage during rabbinical school, 1974. Behind Alstat is Rabbi Joseph Brodie, Resnicoff's first contact with JTS, when he wrote from Vietnam.

While still on active duty in Europe, Resnicoff made contact with Rabbi Joseph Brodie,[9] the Director of Admissions/Registrar at the rabbinical school of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS or JTSA), who made recommendations to him regarding readings and studies that could help prepare him to apply to the school after leaving Naval service.[3][10] Abraham Joshua Heschel, a leading JTS professor and strong voice within the conservative movement, made a special point of serving on the interview committee that accepted him, beginning discussions with Resnicoff about his military experiences, in part because Heschel had been such a staunch opponent of the Vietnam War.[3] As part of his studies, Resnicoff served as a rabbinical intern to Rabbi Harry Halpern, at Brooklyn's East Midwood Jewish Center.

Resnicoff's studies with Rabbi Max Kadushin, a JTS professor of philosophy and theology, would result in a book by one of Resnicoff's Christian colleagues, the Reverend Locke Bowman[11] translating Kadushin's ideas of value concepts into Christian terms, for a wider audience.[12] In the book's Acknowledgments, Bowman recounts how Resnicoff introduced him to Kadushin's work during a series of professional development seminars for chaplains in which Bowman was a participant. Inspired by Kadushin's work, Bowman visited JTS, for conversations with some of Kadushin's contemporaries, including Simon Greenberg and Avraham Holtz, who agreed that Bowman "had indeed discovered the essence of Rabbi Kadushin's thought and had identified accurately why his efforts should be more widely known by all who teach religion."[12] The dedication of Bowman's book reads, "This book is for two saints of God from whom I have learned so much and to whom I am deeply grateful: Sister Carol Rennie, OSB, and Rabbi Arnold E. Resnicoff, chaplain in the United States Navy."[12]

Resnicoff graduated with four special honors at ordination: The Rabbi Philip R. Alstat Prize for Literary Achievement, The Reverend Zvi Hirsch Masliansy Award in Homiletics, The Lilian M. Lowenfeld Prize in Practical Theology (co-awarded), and The Isaac H. Wolfson Memorial Award for Outstanding Rabbinical Student (co-awarded).

Military chaplaincy


Following ordination from JTS in 1976, Resnicoff returned to the Navy as a chaplain, with his first assignment in Yokosuka, Japan. As the only Jewish chaplain in mainland Japan, he regularly visited every U. S. military base (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard) to support Jewish military personnel and families, in addition to his work as part of a chaplain team helping to provide opportunities for voluntary religious free exercise for those of all faiths.

Other chaplain assignments included service at Naval Station Norfolk, the largest Naval installation in the world; as instructor at the Naval Chaplain School and Naval War College, in Newport, Rhode Island; on the staff of the Chief of Naval Education and Training (CNET)[13] where he worked to increase and strengthen ethics and values content at every level of education and training for military personnel; at Naval Submarine Base New London, where he was the Command Chaplain for both the Base and Submarine Group Two, as well as the Area Chaplain for the area encompassing New England and New York, including the United States Coast Guard Academy.

From 1992-1994, Resnicoff served as Command Chaplain for Recruit Training Command ("RTC"), Orlando, Florida, where he was part of the team, headed by Captain Kathleen Bruyere, that integrated men and women into basic training for the first time. (Before then, women could not "speak, eat, or train together" with men.[14] At RTC, Resnicoff worked to change the philosophy of recruit training, from the old "break them down, then build them up" mentality, arguing that many of today's recruits report for duty already "broken": already told over and over again that they are "worthless." The new challenge of training, Resnicoff insisted, was to stress that each recruit was both worthwhile – and invaluable. Recruits must understand that training would be hard and difficult because they must learn they are stronger than they had ever imagined, because one day that strength might mean the difference between life and death not only for them, but also for the lives of their shipmates. He also worked to enlarge the vision of faith and spiritual strength, from strict religious faith, to the idea of a spiritual strength linked to the human spirit, capable of overcoming incredible odds—a concept that applied to all personnel, whether or not they saw themselves as religious. He created the theme that would become the foundation of chaplain efforts at the RTC until the installation was eventually closed: "Chapel helps you make it through Boot Camp; Faith helps you make it through life."[3][15]

From 1982–1984, Resnicoff served as the first Jewish chaplain on the staff of Commander, United States Sixth Fleet, part of a new rabbi-priest-minister team[16][17] that covered all ships in the Mediterranean, as well as the Marines serving with the Multinational Peace-Keeping force (MNF) in Lebanon. After serving as Command Chaplain for the U.S. European Command, he served as Director of Education and Training for all Navy chaplains, on the staff of the U.S. Navy Chief of Chaplains.[18]

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Closing prayer, Vietnam Veterans Memorial dedication, 1982, standing alongside Jan Scruggs

Resnicoff was part of a small group of Vietnam veterans, led by Jan Scruggs,[19] that worked to create the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, in Washington, D.C.. Scruggs, an Army corporal with the 199th Light Infantry Brigade who had been wounded on the battlefield in Vietnam, recruited Resnicoff by sharing the vision that this memorial—The Wall--would help heal a different kind of wound: the psychological wounds inflicted on Americans by the war and its aftermath, including the treatment of war veterans.[3]

In the Library of Congress Veterans History Project oral history for Resnicoff, May 2010, he recounts that "The Wall" is a particularly appropriate name for the Memorial, because in many ways it has become an American version of Jerusalem's Western Wall, "holy ground," where men and women come to remember the past and pray for the future. He recalls that the creation of this memorial was highly controversial when first proposed by Scruggs, criticized by many on both sides of the political spectrum: by those on the left who were opposed to any memorial that did not label American involvement in Vietnam a mistake – and honor the protesters as much as the military; and those on the right, who were opposed to any memorial that did not honor, and even celebrate, American military involvement, rejecting any criticism of it. Ultimately, by focusing on the need for healing, and for remembering our dead, rather than on the rights or wrongs of the political decisions that took us to war, this memorial has become one of the most frequently visited and most beloved memorials in America.[3]

Resnicoff delivered prayers on May 26, 1980 and May 25, 1981 at ceremonies marking plans and progress for the creation of the memorial, and on Nov 21, 1982, he delivered the closing prayer at the official dedication of "The Wall."[20] In his prayer, he continued the theme of the dedication, To Heal the Nation, stressing the idea that the time had come for all Americans—regardless of their opinions about the war itself—to mourn our dead, and to recognize and respect the horrors faced by all those who had served. Resnicoff strongly believes that one enduring legacy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is the renewed awareness on the part of Americans of the importance of separating beliefs about specific military decisions and actions, from respect for and support of the men and women in uniform who serve in our nation's military, regularly enduring family separation, and often risking their lives, as part of that service. He has stated that this is a crucial "vision shift" that has been shown in the almost universal American support for military personnel in Iraq (see: Iraq War and Post-invasion Iraq, 2003–present) and Afghanistan, despite the national debate regarding those ongoing conflicts.[3]

In November 2002, at the special ceremony celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Memorial, Resnicoff delivered the same prayer he had offered at the original 1982 dedication.[21]

Beirut Barracks bombing

President Ronald Reagan reads Resnicoff's report from 1983 Beirut barracks bombing as keynote address for conference, "Baptist Fundamentalism '84."

On October 23, 1983, while serving as a chaplain for the United States Sixth Fleet, Resnicoff was present in Beirut, Lebanon, during the suicide truck bomb attack that took the lives of 241 American military personnel, and wounded scores more. (Minutes later, a second attack would take the lives of an additional 58 members of the near-by French contingent of the multinational task force.) He had arrived on Friday, Oct 21, to lead a Memorial Service for SGT Allen Soifert, a Jewish American Marine killed by sniper fire.[22] Transportation had been offered to return him to the Sixth Fleet flagship in Gaeta, Italy, on Saturday, but Resnicoff said he could not travel on Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, and would remain in Beirut with the Marines until the following day, a decision that put him on the scene, in a building approximately 75 yards (69 m) away, when the first truck bomb attack occurred at 6:20AM on Sunday, Oct 23, demolishing the Marine barracks.[23]

Wearing the make-shift "camouflage kippa" made for him by Catholic chaplain (Fr.) George Pucciarelli, after his had become bloodied when it was used to wipe the face of a wounded Marine.

Four days after the attack, the White House team that visited Beirut, led by Vice President of the United States, George H. W. Bush, asked him to write a report on the attack and its aftermath—and on April 13, 1984, President Ronald Reagan read that report in its entirety as his keynote address to the Rev. Jerry Falwell's "Baptist Fundamentalism '84" convention, in Washington, DC.[24][25] During the delivery of the speech, President Reagan was interrupted by a small group of protestors, armed with pre-printed banners, chanting, "Bread, not bombs." Reagan, at the height of his powers as "the great communicator," deftly handles the situation, at one point commenting, "Wouldn't it be nice if a little bit of that Marine spirit would rub off, and they would listen [to the chaplain's words] about brotherly love?"[24]

Parts of the report were quoted by many other military leaders, including Chief of Naval Operations Admiral James D. Watkins, who quoted from the report in his 1984 graduation address to the cadets at the U.S. Naval Academy.[26] Life Magazine quoted Resnicoff among the short list of quotes included in their 1984 "Year in Pictures" issue: "I have been watching those men [the Marines in Beirut] doing the clearing, and this is when they get the most emotional. It is when they have to pick up the birthday cards and the wedding pictures strewn among the rubble that it hits them that all of these people were individuals. Then they realize it is not 200+ dead Marines: it is one, plus one, plus one."[27]

Days of Remembrance of the Victims of Holocaust

Delivering invocation, National DRVH ceremony, Capitol Rotunda, 1987
Rabbi Seymour Siegel (center), then Executive Director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, meets with Resnicoff and Sixth Fleet Commander, Vice Admiral Edward Martin (right) to discuss the participation of U.S. Navy Sixth Fleet ships in the U.S. annual Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust. USS Puget Sound, Gaeta, Italy, 1984.
Leading first official U.S.Navy DRVH shipboard ceremony, USS Puget Sound, Malaga, Spain, 1984

In 1984, Resnicoff's long-term efforts to convince the United States Department of Defense to participate in the national annual program for the Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust[28] were successful. For a number of years he had been making the case at many levels of military leadership that General Eisenhower had already initiated a remembrance program when, after U.S. forces liberated Ohrdruf (a sub-camp of Buchenwald), Eisenhower called for reporters from the U.S. and UK to document evidence of the Holocaust,[29] so that, Eisenhower said, the time would never come when such atrocities could be denied, and reports about them could be regarded as mere propaganda. Additionally, Eisenhower's words—that the American GI did not always understand what he was fighting for, so he should see this evidence, to understand, at least, what he was fighting against[30]—became, Resnicoff successfully argued, the foundation of an historic military effort to remember and learn from the Holocaust that today's military had the duty to honor and carry on. Resnicoff's efforts took a significant step forward when Colonel Harvey T. Kaplan, U.S. Army, the Executive Director of the Defense Equal Opportunity Council, lent his strong support to the effort, and on April 1, 1984, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger signed a memorandum to the military services, urging the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other military commanders to participate in the annual program for the first time.[31] To support military programs, Resnicoff first created resource materials for the United States Navy Chaplain Corps (Horror and Hope: Americans Remember the Holocaust),[32] then served as the Navy representative to the committee, chaired by Kaplan, that created the official Department of Defense Guide[33] for remembrance ceremonies on all U.S. military ships and stations.[34]

Support for continued military involvement in this effort included the President in his role of Commander-in-Chief, and both the first and second editions of the Department of Defense Guide included signed Presidential letters endorsing the effort. In 1984, the first official year of military involvement, after arranging a meeting between Rabbi Seymour Siegel, Executive Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, and Vice Admiral Edward Martin, Commander, United States Sixth Fleet,[35] Resnicoff conducted the first shipboard Holocaust Days of Remembrance Ceremony, on board USS Puget Sound (AD-38), the Sixth Fleet Flagship, during a port visit to Malaga, Spain.[36]

Naval War College

Also in 1984, he became the first Jewish chaplain to attend the Naval War College, and in 1985, the first chaplain of any faith to teach a course at any military war college, creating and teaching the elective course, Faith and Force: Religion, War, and Peace, at the Naval War College (NWC), Newport, RI,[37] teaching the course from 1985–1988. While studying at the NWC, he used his experiences during and after the Beirut bombing to do research on ethical responses to terrorism. Professor Albert Bernstein, then Chairman of the Department of Strategy, wrote that his "views on the morality of reprisal have been greatly influenced by discussions with and writings of Commander Arnold E. Resnicoff."[38]

While at the NWC, Resnicoff helped create the annual NWC conference on Leadership and Ethics, serving as a keynote speaker for that conference on numerous occasions until his retirement. For his work as a student, he was the recipient of the President's Honor Graduate Award.[37]

Religious accommodation in the military

In the years leading up to 1987, Resnicoff played a crucial role in the discussions that led to the decision to allow religious head-coverings for military personnel. During debates over that issue in Congress, the story of the kippa/skullcap that a Catholic Chaplain had made for him by tearing off a piece of his own Marine camouflage uniform, after Resnicoff's kippa was used to wipe the blood from a wounded Marine's face[39] (a story recounted in the speech read by President Reagan), was entered into the Congressional Record,[40] in an effort to focus on the "unity" of religious freedom represented by the head covering, over and above the much lesser value of strict "uniformity" those originally arguing against allowing skullcaps had vowed to protect. The religious apparel amendment that had failed to pass in the House of Representatives for two years finally passed the year this story was recounted, with many congressional leaders crediting this story as a powerful message that helped the amendment succeed.[41] Additionally, this story was recounted by many military leaders who had previously opposed the change, but now supported it, including the Commandant and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps.[42] This amendment laid the groundwork for the ground-breaking directive (later, changed to a Department of Defense Instruction)[43] that established official military policies and procedures for the Accommodation of Religious Practices Within the Military Services. In addition to its role in garnering support for the change in military religious accommodation policies, this story of the camouflage kippa would be frequently cited as an example, along with the World War II story of the Four Chaplains on the USAT Dorchester, of Chaplain Corps cooperation at its best.[44] As one newspaper headline put it, "6th fleet rabbi wears a green badge of courage."[45]

The story of the kippa was once retold by President Reagan, when (in addition to his speech to the 1984 Baptist Fundamentalism '84 convention) representatives of the "American Friends of Lubavitch" visited the White House to present Reagan with a Hanukkah menorah. To the surprise of the group, Reagan invited them to remain a little longer so that he could tell them the story of Resnicoff's kippa, and then ask them the meaning behind it. Responding to the President, Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, the group's leader, started: "Mr. President, the kippa to us is a sign of reverence." A colleague, Rabbi Feller, continued, "We place the kippa on the very highest point of our being—on our head, the vessel of our intellect—to tell ourselves and the world that there is something which is above man's intellect—the infinite Wisdom of G-d."[46]

Gay and lesbian rights

In addition to his work in support of individuals of all religions, Resnicoff worked to support the rights of men and women of all sexual orientations, as well.[47] His work has been recognized by long-time advocates of LGBT rights, including his work at the Naval War College as far back as the early 90s.[48]

He was a strong proponent for repeal of the Don’t ask, don’t tell policy of the American military, through his participation in major military conferences,[48] and through his writings that were published both as editorials and internet blog comments in both the Jewish and mainstream press.[49][50] On December 22, 2010, he delivered the invocation at the Presidential Signing Ceremony for the DADT repeal, at White House request.[51][52] The text of the prayer was widely reproduced, with many reports focusing on his statement that “unity is our goal, not uniformity, and we need not fear differences among those united to defend our nation’s freedoms and its dreams.”[53] Tanya Domi, a military veteran who identified herself as a Lesbian Army captain wrote that, “In his beautiful prayer, Rabbi Resnicoff applies a healing salve to the psychic wounds we have sustained as second-class citizens, and reminds us of the greatness of America in believing that life can improve, as he calls upon divine wisdom to lead us into an unknown future of change.”[48]

United States European Command

Working with refugees, Camp Hope, Albania, 1999

From 1997 to 2000, Resnicoff was the first Jewish Chaplain to serve at the level of Command Chaplain for a Unified Combatant Command, serving as chaplain for the United States European Command (USEUCOM), under the leadership of General Wesley Clark. In that position, he served as principal advisor to General Clark and the USEUCOM staff on matters of religion, ethics, and morals; coordinated religious support for more than 100,000 U.S. military personnel and families of all military branches and all faiths; and served as liaison to the chaplaincies of other nations throughout the USEUCOM area of responsibility (AOR), leading and coordinating three International Military Chiefs of Chaplains Conferences in Europe, where he introduced a new vision of the potential role of chaplains as liaisons to religious leaders,[54] and of religion as a force for peace and conflict resolution,[55] and for reconciliation after the battles.[56] He also made presentations on religion, values, and leadership, at numerous conferences in locations that included Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, and worked with military leaders from former Soviet Union nations as they began to deal with issues of human rights and religious freedoms within the military context.

Resnicoff with Chief of Chaplains Major General Fiume Gqiba, South Africa (left) and Sabelo Maseko, Swaziland (right), 1998.
Resnicoff at 1999 International Military Chiefs of Chaplains Conference, Geneva, Switzerland, flanked by two Swiss Guards, 1999

Additionally, his special work in the Balkans during the time of American involvement in Bosnia and Kosovo included work with U.S. and NATO troops, civilian relief workers, political and military leaders, religious representatives, and refugees. He represented the military in the first conference of religious seminary students from Kosovo, Bosnia, Albania, and Macedonia;[57] and led a delegation representing the four official religions of Bosnia—Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Muslim, and Jewish—on an historic visit to the U.S.,[58] where they were able to witness examples of interfaith cooperation and respect at military sites including The Pentagon and the U.S. Army Chaplain School.

Sixth Fleet and Israel

Resnicoff leads unusual 1983 interfaith service at Israel's Western Wall, in Wilson's Arch, to left of main wall. Service was approved by the Israel Ministry of Religious Affairs to welcome the Commander, United States Sixth Fleet.
Dedication of Jerusalem Sixth Fleet Lounge, Jerusalem, 1983

In 1983, Resnicoff held the first interfaith and mixed gender worship service ever held at Israel's Western Wall. Conducted under the supervision of the Israel Ministry of Religious Affairs, the ten-minute service included men and women from U.S. Navy ships, and concluded with the Priestly Blessing, recited by Resnicoff, who is a Kohen. Ministry of Affairs representative Yonatan Yuval was present, responding to press queries that this service was authorized as part of a special welcome for the U.S. Sixth Fleet.[59]

In 1984, Resnicoff conducted the first Israeli Presidential ceremony in commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, held in the President's Residence, Jerusalem. Mrs. Aura Herzog, wife of Israel's then-President Chaim Herzog, noted that she was especially proud to host this special event, because Israel had a national forest in honor of Dr. King, and that Israel and Dr. King shared the idea of dreams.[60] R esnicoff continued this theme in his remarks during the ceremony, quoting the verse from Genesis, spoken by the brothers of Joseph when they saw their brother approach, "Behold the dreamer comes; let us slay him and throw him into the pit, and see what becomes of his dreams." Resnicoff noted that, from time immemorial, there have been those who thought they could kill the dream by slaying the dreamer, but—as the example of Dr. King's life shows—such people are always wrong.[3]

He also recommended and then helped with the establishment of the Haifa, Israel, USO, for all United States Military personnel. Prior to the October 1983 Beirut barracks bombing, the United States had severely limited U.S. ship visits to Israel, trying to maintain neutrality among nations and factions involved in the Lebanon conflict.[3] After the attack, this position was abandoned, and U.S. ships began to make frequent visits. Resnicoff recommended Ms. Gilla Gerzon, public relations director for the Dan Haifa Hotel for the position of USO director, and he and U.S. Sixth Fleet Public Affairs Officer, Captain Peter Litrenta, helped coordinate arrangements for her appointment and the creation of the center with top USO leaders.[3] Gerzon was so successful that she was later referred to as the "Mother of the Sixth Fleet",[61] and was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal by the United States Secretary of the Navy.[62]

Additionally, Resnicoff helped create a U.S. Sixth Fleet Lounge, for Jewish personnel, at Jerusalem's Laromme Hotel. The area was to be used for Sixth Fleet personnel and their families visiting Jerusalem during ship visits to Haifa or Ashdod, and included an area that was used for relaxation, in addition to special events, including informal briefings about Israel.[63] He led the first official Israeli visits by the United States Navy Chief of Chaplains, RADM Byron Holderby, in August 1988; and Army and Air Force Chiefs of Chaplains, MajGen Donald Shea and MagGen William Dendinger, in May 1999,[64] in addition to coordinating and hosting their visits to other world-wide locations within the U.S. European command area of responsibility, including a number of nations in Africa, and the first visit by officers and crew of the aircraft carrier, USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67), to Israel's John F. Kennedy Memorial and Peace Forest.

1986 US-USSR Reagan-Gorbachov meetings in Iceland

In 1986, Resnicoff was sent to Iceland to lead Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) services during the historic Reagan-Gorbachev pre-summit meetings. A Washington Post article on his selection for this trip included the reporter's question as to what Resnicoff would say if he had the chance to speak directly with the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev. Resnicoff's answer that he wouldn't have to use words: that wearing the uniform of a United States Navy Officer, with the Ten Commandments (the insignia worn by Jewish chaplains) on his sleeve, would "say it all", in terms of what he considered the difference in the respect and freedoms granted to all citizens in the United States, in sharp contrast with their treatment in countries like the Soviet Union.[65] The symbolism of Resnicoff's participation in this initiative made an impression on many Americans. Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI) entered the text of the Octtobe 8, 1986, Providence Journal article, "Navy Rabbi To Join Iceland Team: Russian immigrant's grandson picked to lead staff services"), in the October 9, 1986, Senate Congressional Record. A number of papers throughout the U.S., civilian and military, reprinted the sermon he delivered in Iceland, on Yom Kippur, "Small Steps Toward Big Dreams".[66]

Interfaith prayer

Resnicoff's article, Prayers That Hurt: Public Prayer in Interfaith Settings,[67] has been widely reprinted, and used in training programs for chaplains serving with the military, police, and hospitals, and has been quoted in legal briefs used in the United States Court of Appeal, in arguments related to prayer in government settings.[68] His prayer, To Keep the Dream Alive, delivered at the April 28, 1987, National Civic Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony in the Capitol rotunda, has been used in remembrance ceremonies in other national and international ceremonies as far away as Australia.[69] and was one of two of his prayers that were published in the collection, The Treasury of American Prayer.[70] He has served as Guest Chaplain for the United States Senate on eight separate occasions, delivering prayers to open the official Senate sessions, and on January 7, 2003, delivered the benediction for the Bipartisan Congressional Prayer Service that welcomed the members of the 108th congress before the ceremony to swear them in.[71] In addition to his prayers at official United States ceremonies and special events, on March 19, 1993, he delivered the prayer for the commissioning of the first of a series of new Israeli missile boats (Sa'ar 5), jointly built by the U.S. and Israel, in Ingalls Shipyard, Pascagoula, Mississippi.[72]

Resnicoff has also used prayer as a way of moving from the pain of the past to hope in the future, as he did in 2000, when he helped to facilitate an interfaith gathering of seminary students from the Balkans:

Using his Jewish in-depth knowledge and wisdom, he lifted up the value of laments as a means of grieving deep hurts. He assisted an interfaith group of seminary students from the Balkans in processing their trauma witnessed during the many years of Serbian aggression. Each participant was asked to compose a lament as a way of getting in touch with the deep hurts of the war and anger that so many innocent lives had been wiped off before their time. Resnicoff believes in the power of remembering and mourning loss as part of the healing process.[73]

Interfaith cooperation

Resnicoff frequently addresses the concept of "faith in action" -- human beings spurred on by their faith to help others—linked to a concept of interfaith cooperation: "As a nation we should not stand for any one religion. We should not create some civil or national religion that can take the place of those we already have....instead we should reaffirm the prayers upon which our nation was based: the prayer and the dream of religious freedom."[74] He believes that chaplains help work to support the "free exercise" of religion on the part of individuals with many different religions (while caring for those with no religious faith, as well), but he stresses that what many religions or faiths have in common is the faith to believe that "eventually things can get better."[75] "Military people often see the worst in life--the tragedy, brutalityand pain. It's essential especially for them that they keep the dream alive. The dream of what they can be as individuals, as Americans, and finally what the world can be."[75]

Resnicoff uses his own story—the fact that it was an Episcopal Priest in Vietnam who first urged him to become a rabbi—as an example of the fact that "interfaith cooperation" in America is symbolized by the work of military chaplains:

"...'religious cooperation' in other countries usually means no one is persecuting you because of religion--but it is only in America...that chaplains of one faith are working to help others struggle and grow within their own religious faith traditions."[76]

Resnicoff notes that the chaplain's role includes working to protect individuals from religious pressure or coercion: "I make it clear," he said in one interview, "that the Navy doesn't support religion; it supports religious freedom. We protect people who don't want to be religious."[77] He also stresses that chaplains understand the difference between "religion" and "faith." "When someone comes to us for the specific services or the celebration of a holy day, that's a religious observance. But there is also the greater aspect of faith, which means believing in something larger than ourselves."[78] However, he believes that we can all learn from interfaith dialogue, understanding how specific religions have wrestled with questions that face us all. For example, he says that "Religion teaches that life is sacred...Yet religion also teaches us that life is not ultimate, because the bottom line is, there are things worth dying for...We're told that peace is a goal. We pray for peace. But again, peace is not ultimate because there does come a time when it is worthwhile taking a stand, when our conscience, our hearts and souls, demand that we take risks and sacrifices."[79]

Other noteworthy achievements

In 1989, Resnicoff traveled to London's Western Marble Arch Synagogue as part of the group to accept a Torah Scroll rescued from Czechoslovakia after the Holocaust, for use in the United States Naval Academy, in Annapolis, Maryland.[80] In 1991, he was part of a small Jewish group to visit the Soviet Union after the fall of the Iron Curtain—and just two weeks after Soviet troops sent tanks to take over a local television station in Vilnius, Lithuania, the group visited the President of that nation, under the auspices of B'nai B'rith, the first Jewish group to show support for the country.[81]

Resnicoff was involved over the years in numerous issues of pluralism and religious accommodation, including his help in training the first Muslim chaplain in the U.S. Navy (ultimately commissioned in 1998), crafting a two-week indoctrination program for him at the U.S. Naval Submarine Base New London, in Groton, Connecticut. He was part of the Blue-ribbon panel that changed the Jewish Chaplain insignia,[82] replacing the Roman numerals in the insignia's representation of the Ten Commandments with Hebrew letters, November 9, 1981; and active in the efforts that resulted in kosher field rations (MRKs: Meals, Ready-to-Eat, Kosher), later renamed and expanded to include both Meal, Religious, Kosher/Halal[83] and Meal, Religious, Kosher for Passover.[84] Before the creation of these kosher and halal rations, he worked with the Officers Club at Naval Station, Newport, Rhode Island, to offer kosher meals for the first time at any Officers or Enlisted Club in the United States military.[85]

The book, Pictorial History of the Jewish People, includes a photo of Resnicoff, sounding the Shofar, the ram's horn, onboard a U.S. Navy ship, during a port visit to Haifa, Israel.[86]

In 2001, Resnicoff retired from the Navy with the rank of Navy Captain.[87]

After military retirement

Visiting patients, Balad Air Base Hospital, Iraq, 2005.

On Jun 27, 2005, the United States Air Force appointed Rabbi Resnicoff to the newly created[88] one-year position of Special Assistant (for Values and Vision) to the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force.[89] Resnicoff served in this position from 2005–2006, at the equivalent military rank of Brigadier General, responsible for making recommendations regarding policy and guidance in support of the Air Force initiative to integrate core values into all Air Force operating concepts and policies. His assignment took him around the world, beginning in the Middle East, with Iraq,[90] Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, and continuing to military bases throughout Europe and the Pacific, as well as installations within the United States, including the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO, and the Air War College, in Montgomery, Alabama, where he met with Air Force leaders at every level of command. During this appointment, Resnicoff was instrumental in terms of beginning service-wide discussions on policies for religious free exercise within the Air Force.[91]

This effort included meetings with many leaders of America's diverse religious community, including the Rev. Jerry Falwell, with whom he discussed the issue of "inclusive" prayer in official military ceremonies. Resnicoff reported that Falwell gave strong approval to the idea, based on the Biblical verse that God "hears the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts", that a Christian chaplain could offer prayer in an inclusive (non-denominational) way with his words, and then more specific religious words, such as "in Jesus' name," silently, as a "meditation of the heart."[92]

Other special appointments that Resnicoff has accepted following retirement have included the coordination of a 2003 congressional delegation (CODEL) to South Africa to compare lessons from the U.S. civil rights movement to the South African decision to end apartheid, as part of a project initiated by the Faith and Politics Institute,[93] in Washington, DC; and service for one year as the National Director of Interreligious Affairs for the American Jewish Committee.

Resnicoff has served on the boards of organizations including the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs (CCEIA); as a member of organizations including The United States Navy Chief of Chaplains Ethics Advisory Board, and The Jewish Theological Seminary of America Chancellor's Rabbinic Cabinet; and is currently a member of the Rabbinical Assembly and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), in addition to a number of military veteran organizations, including the Jewish War Veterans of the United States, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Beirut Veterans of America,[94] and the Gamewardens of Vietnam Association[95]

Special presentations and conferences

Rabbi Resnicoff has lectured widely on pluralism, religious freedom, and ethics and values, at many civilian and military forums, including the Northeastern Political Science Association;[96] the International Society for Military Ethics (ISME);[97] the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute;[98] the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre in Clementsport, Nova Scotia[99] and the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, in Israel's Bar Ilan University.

He was the first chaplain to brief the Joint Chiefs of Staff and worldwide Unified Combatant Command commanders, at a Washington, DC, CINC's Conference, where he addressed issues of core values and quality of life.[100] In 1996, he crafted and led the first Conference on Ethics and Leadership for the staff of the Camp David Presidential Retreat.[101] He was the only military chaplain to attend the United Nations Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual leaders,[102] was one of 100 religious leaders at the Sep 11, 1988, White House discussion with then President Bill Clinton on the way religion might combat violence in American schools, and represented the U.S. military at the 1999 Seventh World Assembly of the World Conference of Religions for Peace, in Amman, Jordan.

Resnicoff's February 2006 presentation[103] on religion, the military, and church-and-state issues, presented at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) was broadcast multiple times on C-SPAN. He presented an updated version of this talk—"Faith and Foxholes: Religion in the Military"—in May 2010 at the Library of Congress (LOC).[104] In the same month, the LOC Veterans History Project[105] conducted a two-hour video oral history of Resnicoff for their permanent historical archives.[3]


Spiritual force protection

Resnicoff is frequently quoted on the impact of war and violence on the human spirit, including the distinction he makes between "outrage", a feeling we must value, because it is part of being human (and we must fight against the danger that war and violence can numb us against it), and "rage", where emotions take over, we lose our moral compass, and we become vulnerable to manipulation by others who want us to lose our way.[27][106] While working for General Wesley K. Clark at the U.S. European Command, Resnicoff worked to expand the concept of force protection to include Spiritual Force Protection:[107][108] protecting military personnel not only against physical danger, but against threats to their humanity, as well.[109]

The book, Stoic Warriors: The Ancient Philosophy Behind the Military Mind[110] describes his thinking as follows:

The fear of losing one's soul to war is real, felt over and over again by those who wear a uniform. Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff, a retired Navy captain and senior chaplain assigned to General Wesley Clark in the European Command during the war in Bosnia, told me of a colonel who sought him out while serving in Bosnia. "Chaplain," he said, the army trains me to kill people and break things. Your job, chaplain, is to keep me from ever getting to the point when I like doing it..."

The concern is as old as the Old Testament. In Exodus 30:11–16 we could read that each soldier who goes to war must pay a half-shekel to God for ransom of his soul, and in Numbers 31:50 that each warrior who returns must ask for expiation. For Resnicoff, the take-home lesson is that we need to prepare soldiers better for the role transition from civilian to warrior and warrior to civilian.

"I think there should be more of a ritualized coming to terms with the war's being over or when you come back, saying that you've done things that would never have been sanctioned in peace, and maybe even you've been part of things that shouldn't have happened in war, but war is not controllable all the time. But let's make the transition. I think that's one of the things that happens in post-traumatic stress. There's no transition back, there's no break back."

While at the European Command, Resnicoff proposed the idea of "spiritual force protection", a spin on the buzzword at the time, "force protection"—the minimization of risks in order to bring troops home. In retrospect, he is critical of the principle of force protection. The military went overboard at the time, he says, going for "risk aversion" or "risk avoidance", when it should have gone for "risk management". But he stands by the spiritual version of the principle: We don't want our people just to come home physically; we want them to come back as close to the human beings they were before they went in." That, as the biblical texts suggest, "is not something that you can wait and just start afterwards. It's something that you do before."[110]

Expanded role of military chaplains in peace and reconciliation initiatives

While working as Command Chaplain for the U.S. European Command, Resnicoff worked to convince military leaders to see their chaplains as part of the military effort in the area of engagement: building ties and strengthening relationships with leaders in other nations that could promote understanding. He spoke and wrote about the fact that Americans often want to avoid involvement with religious issues because it is something "personal", but that approach ignores the fact that religion is often a factor that can lead to hatred and war, and therefore, he believed, it could be a force for understanding and peace. This was especially true in nations where religious leaders had close ties or even official links to government leaders, or where religion itself had an official place in national policies—such as in Lebanon, where the official census determined the "confessional balance" of national officials (that is, the percentage of the population that represented one religion determined the percentage of officials of that religion in the government). His efforts opened up new opportunities for a number of chaplains, and he became the first European Command chaplain who became part of official briefings for visiting Admirals and Generals, including those selected for promotion to these ranks, visiting as part of the CAPSTONE Military Leadership Program to prepare them for their new responsibilities. Resnicoff's efforts were widely discussed during his time at the European Command, including meetings and conferences convened by him on behalf of the European Command that included military and civilian leaders and scholars, at forums including the National Defense University in Washington, DC. His efforts were acknowledged in what would later become an important group of works on the potential of religion in conflict avoidance, resolution, and reconstruction, such as the 2002 book, Holy War, Holy Peace:How Religion Can Bring Peace to the Middle East..[111] The following report summarizes some of his efforts:[112]

With the NATO Kosovo war over in Kosovo and the rebuilding process begun, one high-ranking U.S. Navy officer wants to try and avoid future ethnic conflicts with the help of military chaplains. Rabbi Arnold E. Resnicoff, chaplain on the staff of Gen. Wesley K. Clark, the commander in chief of the U.S. European Command, is pushing an initiative to include chaplains from all faiths in military decisions to prevent violence and, if that fails, in the healing process. "We all know that religion can play a role in conflict, and has been used to fan the flames of hatred during a conflict," Resnicoff says. "We must investigate ways that religion can also play a role in conflict resolution and reconciliation." To that end, the soft-spoken Conservative rabbi says NATO chaplains should have a greater role in supporting Allied troops with personal moral conflicts, and in reducing misunderstandings about foreign religious beliefs. He says it is important to move fast and establish regional cooperative programs in such potential hot spots as Eastern Europe and South Africa "so that we are ahead of the power curve before another Kosovo explodes." Capt. Resnicoff says American military leaders have come a long way in understanding other religious cultures since the UN shot at a minaret in Gaza in 1957, "because unfamiliarity with the call to prayer made them think it might be a 'call to revolt.' "But we are not yet at the stage where we can use the stories from other cultures as opportunities to show understanding and respect in a way that can strengthen relationships and create opportunities for progress. "There are still large pockets in our knowledge, which the chaplain can help fill in through staff work and advice." Resnicoff also believes chaplains can become bridges to suspicious ethnic civilians wary of foreign troops. "Again and again I see that civilians ... who are still mistrustful of the military, respond in a much more positive way to chaplains." He notes that British chaplains tell him that chaplains even cross religious and political lines more easily than others in the supercharged atmosphere of Northern Ireland. The rabbi is traveling around the globe trying to gain support for the proposal.

Awards and honors

Resnicoff has received numerous military awards, including the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, four Meritorious Service Medals, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, and two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals (one with the Combat V, for Valor). For his service with the Air Force following retirement from the military, he was awarded the United States Air Force Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service, the highest award that the Air Force can present to a civilian. Other special awards include The President's Honor Graduate Award, Naval War College; International Community Service Award, Moment Magazine;[113] The Rabbi Louis Paris Hall of Heroes Gold Medallion, Chapel of Four Chaplains;[114] and the Commandant's Award, Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI),[98] Patrick Air Force Base, Florida.

In 1994, the Chaplain Arnold E. Resnicoff Scholarship Fund was established in his honor at The Jewish Theological Seminary (with the first donation made by the family of a young Jewish sailor he had helped while serving as the senior chaplain for the Navy's Recruit Training Command, Orlando, Florida), to help rabbinical students who agree to serve at least one assignment as military chaplains, following ordination.[100][115]

Resnicoff's work with interfaith affairs has been recognized in many ways, including the dedication of the 1990 book, Teaching for Christian Hearts, Souls & Minds.[12]

Official citation for the Defense Superior Service Medal

Defense Superior Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal.png
Awarded by United States Department of Defense
Awarded for "Superior meritorious service in a position of significant responsibility"

Awarded May 2000, Stuttgart, Germany:

Captain Arnold E. Resnicoff, United States Navy, distinguished himself by exceptionally superior service while serving as Command Chaplain, Headquarters, United States European Command, from May 1997 to May 2000. As principal advisor on religion, ethics, and morals to the Commander in Chief United States European Command, Chaplain Resnicoff's exceptional leadership, unparalleled strategic vision, and extraordinary moral courage made an unprecedented impact not only on the more than 100,000 military personnel stationed in this area of operations, but on the top levels of leadership of all branches of the armed forces. He worked with Chiefs of Chaplains, Ambassadors and heads of State, to champion issues of quality of life and religious freedom on the part of military personnel, helping other nations struggle with issues of democracy and human rights in creative and powerful new ways.

Working within an area that encompassed 89 countries and more than 13 million square miles, he traveled extensively to work with military and civilian personnel, including refugees and civilian relief workers in Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania, forging new roles for chaplains in the area of civilian-military cooperation, and the role of religion in both conflict resolution and reconciliation. Throughout it all, Chaplain Resnicoff's personal integrity, deep faith, and inspirational loyalty to the values of our nation and our military helped remind our armed forces, from the most junior enlisted person to the most senior officer, what it is we stand for and what it is we must stand against. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Captain Resnicoff reflect great credit upon himself, the United States Navy, and the Department of Defense.

Official citation for the Air Force Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service

Air Force Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service
Awarded by United States Air Force
Awarded for "Profound Air Force-wide impact to programs or projects as documented by development of improved methods or procedures, initiation of revolutionary ideas, or unprecedented achievements or benefits to the government."

Awarded June 2006, The Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

Rabbi Arnold E. Resnicoff distinguished himself in the performance of outstanding service as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff of the Air Force, The Pentagon, Washington, District of Columbia, from 27 June 2005 to 27 June 2006. During this period, his outstanding leadership, strategic vision, and ceaseless efforts resulted in major contributions to the success of the Air Force. Rabbi Resnicoff skillfully guided the development of the Interim Religious Guidelines and became the face of the Air Force in responding to national media inquiries. He continually found effective ways to get the Air Force message out, to include a highly successful meeting between the Secretary and the leadership of ten influential religious groups.

His professional reputation for excellence is well known throughout the Air Force and Department of Defense. This reputation and his enthusiasm made him ideally suited to lead the Secretary's new Core Values Initiative, traveling to five MAJCOM Headquarters and ten countries across the globe to brief key Air Force leaders. His vision included an Air Force review of its warfighting culture and, for the first time ever, a Joint Service Core Values Workshop. This resulted in renewed progress in the drive to inculcate core values into decision making at every level. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Rabbi Resnicoff reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Selected Readings

Invocation delivered at the Presidential Signing Ceremony for DADT repeal

Delivered at the United States Department of the Interior, December 22, 2010:[48]

O Lord who made a world of change, You challenged us to mend, repair, and change the world. Some lose faith and think that things will never change, But we Americans - of every faith - religious faith or not - refuse to give up hope or abandon that most American of dreams: that we can make a difference, and that the future can be better than the past. Today we make a change as President Obama signs this bill to law. Today we recall that unity, not uniformity, is our goal, that we need not fear differences among those united to defend our nation's freedoms and its dreams. Today we honor ALL brave men and women, including those who served so long without the honor they deserved. O Lord our God, and God of generations past, help us move forward, toward a nation a little more united, more indivisible, a union a bit more perfect, founded on a great deal more respect. Let us pray that if the day has not yet dawned when we can see the face of God in others then we see, at least, a face as human as our own. Lord, help us keep faith the day will dawn when justice flows - for ALL - like mighty waters, when liberty will be proclaimed throughout the land, when every man or woman can stand tall, and none shall be afraid. And may we say, Amen.

Prayer for the National Civic Commemoration of the Holocaust Days of Remembrance

Delivered at the official National Civic Commemoration, Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust, United States Capitol Rotunda, April 28, 1987:[70]

O Lord our God, help us pray as this ceremony ends, that our service might begin: And keep us from forgetting the difference. Keep us from feeling too good about what we say and do today, for words are not enough, and it is far too easy to recall gigantic evil done by others, yet miss the link to seeds of future horror in our own lives: in apathy, in the careless racial slur, in blindness to a neighbor's wound, or deafness to his cry. And yet, let us take some pride—and hope—in what we do today, for sometimes, words can pave the way: songs and prayers can help bear witness to the good within us still, can give dreams a voice—a call which might be, must be, heard, to give direction to our lives. So, from the Holocaust, we learn: when we deny humanity in others, we destroy humanity within ourselves. When we reject the human, and the holy, in any neighbor's soul, then we unleash the beast, and the barbaric, in our own heart. And, since the Holocaust, we pray: if the time has not yet dawned when we can all proclaim our faith in God, then let us say at least, that we admit we are not gods ourselves. If we cannot yet see the face of God in others, then let us see, at least, a face as human as our own. So long ago, the Bible taught that life might be a blessing or a curse: the choice is in our hands. Today we vow: the curse will be remembered. But our prayer must also be to fight despair; to find the strength, the courage, and the faith, to keep alive the dream...that—through us and through our children—the blessing might still be.

Prayer at the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Delivered as the closing prayer, Memorial dedication, November 13, 1982:[70]

Some 2500 years ago, the prophet Jeremiah cried out with words filled with pain and anguish, words of despair, words which might have come out of the mouths of our Vietnam Veterans...until today. "Why have we been smitten?," he asked, "and then for us there was no healing. We looked for peace but could find no good. We looked for a time of healing, and, behold, we found terror." Oh Lord our God, and God of generations past, help us, we pray, make this the beginning of the time of healing that we all seek. Help us ease the terror and the pain of all who suffered because of war. And help them and help us find the way to peace. God, let this monument and this dedication forever remind us that we will come together to mourn our dead. We will come together to reach out to our wounded. We will come together to remember and to honor our brave. Only then may we have the vision to dream our dreams again; may we have the faith to pray our prayers again; may we have the courage to march along together again. And together, help make this the kind of country, and the kind of world, for which we all pray. May we all join together and say, Amen.

Sample Senate Prayers (Excerpts)

January 22, 2003 (Week of Martin Luther King Day):[116]

O God, who made a world of change, you challenged us to change the world. You gave us dreams of better times, and the power to pursue those dreams: to do our part to make a difference, and help those dreams come true. This week we set aside a day to recall that there are those who seek to kill the dreamers, and thereby kill the dreams. But we will remember dreamers, and…we will keep the dreams alive: to build a land where liberty will be proclaimed, where justice rolls like mighty waters, where all shall live in freedom – and, one day, where none shall be afraid.

Apr 28, 2003:[116]

And so, we pray that we be touched, inspired, by the dreams of faiths that make our nation rich; and that we work with all who share the dream of freedom—and freedom's holy light. Let us see the danger is not that sometimes faiths see God—see You—in different ways, but that there are those in every faith who see themselves as gods. Let us keep faith, but let faith keep us, as well, in its embrace. May faith keep us humble, so that we know our limits, even as we learn our strength.

May 2, 2003:[116]

We take time now to offer thanks: for freedoms that are far from free, for they are bought and paid for at the cost of lives cut short, and family dreams that now can never be…. Lord, who gives to everything a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven, we honor those who gave their lives; and we honor those who still live and serve, within a world that knows too well the time of war. And we honor in a special way their families: those they love and who love them, for whom the wars seem much more close to home.

June 13, 2003:[116]

O God who made the rainbows in the sky, you made our land a rainbow, too: from purple mountain majesties to amber waves of grain, we marvel at the colors of our nation, and the beauty of our land. Today, this week, and tomorrow in a special way–Flag Week, and June 14, Flag Day–we set aside some time to honor special colors: the colors of our flag.… In a moment we will pledge allegiance to the flag—and to the Republic for which it stands. As we take that pledge today, let us make that pledge a prayer…: May our flag bring hope of better times to all citizens of our land, and all the nations of our world. May it forever wave, o'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

June 16, 2003[116]

Almighty God of freedom, who gave us the promise and the dream of liberty to be proclaimed throughout the land, we pause before this session to recall words spoken by a Senate nominee–Abe Lincoln–on this day, June 16, in 1858. "A nation divided against itself cannot stand," he said, and we "cannot endure half slave, half free." O Lord our God and God of generations past, we offer thanks for all the progress we have made since that historic speech, even as we recognize we still have more to do. Slavery, the institution, is no more. But let us unite in our resolve that none, enslaved by prejudice or hatred, live lives half slave, half free.

Published works


  • "Understanding Jewish Holy Days," Church Teachers Magazine, spanning issues 1982–84
  • "Seeking God's Presence: Report from the Beirut Bombing," Military Chaplain's Review, 1984
  • "With the Marines in Beirut: A Holy Day Journal," Jewish Spectator, Fall 1984
  • "Retaliation: Self-Defense, Justice, or Revenge?": Moral and Legal Perspectivews on an Anti-Terrorist Strategy," a paper written for the Naval War College, 1985
  • "May It Be a Blessing: An Introduction to Judaism," Navy Chaplain's Bulletin, Summer 1986
  • "Since War Begins in the Minds of Man: Combat Ministry Away From the Battle," The Navy Chaplain, Fall 1986
  • "Prayers That Hurt: Public Prayer in Interfaith Settings," Military Chaplain's Review, 1987; expanded and reprinted in Curtana: A Journal for the Study of the Military Chaplaincy, inaugural edition (Vol 1, No. 1), Fall 2009.
  • "Jewish Views of War and Peace," Proceedings of the Rabbinical Assembly, March 1989
  • "Treat Your Shipmate as Yourself," Ethics for the Junior Officer, Naval Institute Press, 1994
  • "From Vision to Action," The Navy Chaplain, Volume 8, Number 2, 1996
  • "Rules for Our Sake; Not for our Enemies," Living Words IV: A Spiritual Source Book for an Age of Terror, published by Sh'ma, JFL Books, 2002.

Holocaust remembrance resources

DOD DRVH Guide.jpg
  • Horror and Hope: Americans Remember the Holocaust, United States Navy Chaplain Resource Board (Chaplain Arnold E. Resnicoff, Project Officer), March 1987.
  • Days of Remembrance: A Department of Defense Guide for Annual Commemorative Observances, First Edition (96 pages), Office of the Secretary of Defense, March 1988 (Editorial Board, and U.S. Navy representative to the DOD Days of Remembrance Committee).
  • Days of Remembrance: A Department of Defense Guide for Annual Commemorative Observances, Second Edition (revised and expanded, 145 pages), Office of the Secretary of Defense, March 1989 (Editorial Board, and U.S. Navy representative to the DOD Days of Remembrance Committee).


  1. ^ a b Lester Westling, "All That Glitters: Memoirs of a Minister," Global Publishing Services, 2003, pp. 229–233
  2. ^ "Rabbi Arnold E. Resnicoff Named National Director of Interreligious Relations". American Jewish Committee (via Charity Wire). October 4, 2001. Retrieved February 8, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Library of Congress Veterans History Project: Arnold Resnicoff collection, AFC/2001/001/70629, May 2010.
  4. ^ "The Leatherneck" (U.S. Marine Corps), November 1983.
  5. ^ Globe interview, Military news, Sep 29, 1983
  6. ^ Providence Sunday Journal, Feb 3, 1985, "Rabbi Knows Lessons of War."
  7. ^ The Amphibian, Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet, Vol 22, Number 12, Jun 19 1970, "USS Hunterdon County: First Into Cambodia". Also, The Jackstaff News (US Pacific Fleet), Jul 15, 1970, volume 93.
  8. ^ Jewish Lay Leader
  9. ^ Rabbi Joseph Brodie
  10. ^ Aaron Ruvinsky, "It was 'Straight Line' From Mekong to the Rabbinate," The Evening Star and Daily Times, Washington, DC, Jun 9, 1973.
  11. ^ Reverend Locke Bowman
  12. ^ a b c d Locke E. Bowman, Jr., Teaching for Christian Hearts, Souls, & Minds, Harper and Row, New York: 1990.
  13. ^ Chief of Naval Education and Training (CNET) website
  14. ^ BayLite, The Tampa Tribune, Sept 27, 1992.
  15. ^ (The Navigator, NTC Orlando, Nov 19, 1992.)
  16. ^ Soundings, USS Puget Sound, May 1983, "COMSIXTHFLT Chaplain Team Becomes a Reality"
  17. ^ Stars and Stripes, May 18, 1984, "Chaplain Team Serves 6th Fleet Faithfully."
  18. ^ Chaplines, Summer 2001.
  19. ^ Jan Scruggs
  20. ^ Prayer entered into Congressional Record, US Senate, Vol 128, Number 139, Dec 2, 1982.
  21. ^ "Retired Navy Chaplain and a consultant on interfaith values and Interreligious affairs," Jewish National Fund.
  22. ^ New York Post, Nov 22, 1983, "Comrades in Tribute to Fallen Marine."
  23. ^ Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), "Behind the Headlines: Senior U.S. Chaplain Envisions Role for Clergy in Helping to Rebuild Kosovo, June 15, 1999.
  24. ^ a b The American Presidency Project, President Ronald Reagan, "Remarks at the Baptist Fundamentalist Annual Convention," Apr 13, 1984. Speech also reprinted in Modern Day Heroes: In Defense of America, Anderson-Noble Publishing, 2004.]
  25. ^ Slomovitz, Albert Isaac, The Fighting Rabbis: Jewish Military Chaplains and American History, New York University Press, New York: 1999.
  26. ^ Congressional Record, S603, June 7, 1984.
  27. ^ a b "Year in Pictures," Life Magazine, January 1984.
  28. ^ "Navy Chaplain's efforts lead to Holocaust guide," Intermountain Jewish News, April 8, 1988.
  29. ^ Eisenhower at Ordruf
  30. ^ Days of Remembrance: A Department of Defense Guide for Annual Commemorative Observances, Second Edition, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1989, p. 6.
  31. ^ The Jewish Week and American Examiner, Wolf Blitzer, Apr 1, 1984, noting the idea was Resnicoff's "brainchild."
  32. ^ "Horror and Hope: Americans Remember the Holocaust," United States Chaplain Resource Board, March 1987
  33. ^ First edition (96 pages), Mar 1988, followed by the revised and expanded second edition (145 pages), March 1989
  34. ^ Intermountain Jewish News, Denver, CO, Apr 8, 1988; Also, JINSA Security Affairs, Vol V, No. 4, Apr 1987
  35. ^ The Military Chaplain, Vol. 57, No. 2, March–April 1984. The meeting was held on board USS Puget Sound, the Sixth Fleet Flagship, in its home port of Gaeta, Italy.
  36. ^ The Jewish Week, June 8, 1984, "First Holocaust Observance on U.S. Navy ship, held in Spain."
  37. ^ a b JNF Website.
  38. ^ Bernstein, Albert, "Iran's Low Intensity War Against the United States," "Orbis: A Journal of World Affairs," Foreign Policy Research Institute, Spring 1986."
  39. ^ Norfolk Ledger Star, Norfolk, VA, Jan 13, 1984, "Rabbi's Camouflage Yarmulke Woven With Tragedy, Heroism"
  40. ^ Congressional Record, Vol 133, Number 75, May 11, 1987
  41. ^ Jewish Press, May 22, 1987, Solarz Passes Religious Apparel Amendment
  42. ^ Navy Times, Nov 7, 1983, quotes the impact of this story on Sgt Major of the Marine Corps Robert E. Cleary.
  43. ^ Department of Defense Instruction
  44. ^ Naval Law Review, Volume 51, 2005, Navy Chaplains at the Crossroads: Navigating the Intersection of Free Exercise, Establishment, and Equal Protection, Commander William Wildhack III, CHC, USNR, 217.
  45. ^ Bonko, Larry, "6th fleet rabbi wears a green badge of courage," The Virginia Pilot, January 14, 1984.
  46. ^ "Rabbis Explain 'Top to Top'," Wellsprings, No. 12 (Vol 2, No. 7), August–September 1986," Lubavitch Youth Organization.
  47. ^ Domi, Tanya, “Lesbian Army Captain Remembers Those Who Fought Against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” The, December 18, 2010.
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  56. ^ Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), Daily News, Vol 77, No. 113, Jun 17, 1999, "Chaplain Envisions Role of Clergy in Rebuilding Kosovo"
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  88. ^ Under a new Department of Defense "Highly Qualified Expert" (HQE) appointment program.
  89. ^ CCEIA Announcement, "Air Force Appoints Council Trustee Resnicoff to Fight Religious Bias
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  98. ^ a b Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute
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  116. ^ a b c d e Congressional Record, U.S. Senate, Jan 22 , Apr 28, May 2, June 13, and June 16, 2003

Further reading

  • Albert Isaac Slomovitz, The Fighting Rabbis: Jewish Military Chaplains and American History, New York University Press, New York: 1999. (Includes report from 1983 Beirut barracks bombing.)
  • Pete Mitchell and Bill Perkins, Modern Day Heroes: In Defense of America, Anderson-Noble Publishing, California: 2004. (Includes report from 1983 Beirut barracks bombing.)
  • James P. Moore, Jr. (editor), The Treasury of American Prayer, Doubleday, New York: 2008. (Includes two prayers by Resnicoff.)
  • Lester Westling, All That Glitters: Memoirs of a Minister, Hillwood Publishing Co., Bend, Oregon: 2003.
  • Nancy B. Kennedy, "Miracles and Moments of Grace: Inspiring stories from Military Chaplains," Acu/Leafwood Publishing, scheduled March 2011. (Includes story of Chaplains Resnicoff, Wheeler, and Pucciarelli at the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing.)

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