Capt. Daniel Kaplan and Australian Defence Force Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Rosenfeld at the 21st Combat Support Hospital in Iraq, 11 May 2017

By Marla Cohen, JCC Association

NEW YORK CITY – To better understand the needs of Jews in the United States military, Jewish Welfare Board (JWB) Jewish Chaplains Council is surveying those who serve or have served our country in uniform.

The survey, which is being conducted in conjunction with other endorsers of Jewish chaplains, Aleph and Pirchei Shoshanim, is the first of its extent and kind, according to Rabbi Irving Elson, director of JWB Jewish Chaplains Council.

Rabbi Irving Elson

“This will give us a better understanding of what exactly Jews who serve want from a Jewish perspective, and allow us to serve them better,” said Elson, who formerly served in the U.S. Navy.  “That all the endorsers of Jewish chaplains are behind this effort and support it, indicates a broad need, one that we hope this survey will fill with the support of the military branches.”

The survey takes about 5-10 minutes to fill out and is anonymous. In addition to asking such basics as gender, age, current military status, and duty station, JWB drills deeper, asking for how survey participants identify as Jews, whether or not they belong to a synagogue or JCC, whether there are Jewish educational opportunities available for them or their children, and if they would use them, and what kind of services are available to them wherever they are stationed.

“Hearing directly from the Jewish men and women who serve in our military and who need our services will help us tailor JWB’s work to meet them,” Elson said.

JWB is not alone in anticipating how beneficial the survey results will be. In addition to the other endorsers, the different military branches will benefit and learn from the findings.

“I am so appreciative of JWB ‘leaning forward’ with this survey and working with us in serving our Jewish airmen,” said Maj. Gen. Steven A. Schack, Chief of Chaplains in the U.S. Air Force.

To take the survey, visit http://jcca.org/what-we-do/jwb/survey/.

Volume 72. Number 3. Fall 2018