German Armed Forces Seeking Rabbis to Provide Pastoral Care for Jewish Servicemen and Women
The German military has advertised positions for two rabbis to minister to the 300 Jews currently serving in the federal armed forces, or Bundeswehr.
The two rabbinical positions — one for an Orthodox rabbi and one for a non-Orthodox rabbi — will eventually be extended to as many as 10 in total, under the control of a Berlin-based military rabbinate.
A job announcement on the website of the Central Council of Jews in Germany stated that the main role for the rabbi would be providing “pastoral care to servicemen and women and their families.”
Duties include teaching “shiurim” — classes on Jewish studies — and “ensuring observance of the mitzvot, by conducting regular
services and organizing kosher meals among other activities.” Applicants are required to hold both German citizenship and an advanced university degree.
The forthcoming appointment of the rabbis is the concrete result of a Dec. 2019 treaty signed by German Defense Minister Annagret Kramp-Karrenbauer and the Central Council to provide Jewish military pastoral care in the Bundeswehr. At the time, Kramp-Karrenbauer declared herself “humble and grateful” that such an agreement — reached 75 years after the defeat of the Nazi regime — was “possible and real” given the historical background of Nazi crimes against the Jewish people.
During World War I, military rabbis were appointed to care for the more than 100,000 Jews who served in the Kaiser’s army. Current estimates are that 300 Jews serve in the Bundeswehr, out of a total force of 180,000 servicemen and women.