September 5, 1983
US. Navy rabbi conducts
Western Wall interfaith litany
By ILAN CHAIM
Jerusalem Post Reporter
The first ecumenical service ever
conducted at the Western Wall--with
the approval of the Ministry of
Religious Affairs--took place last week
under the leadership of a U.S. Navy
Lieutenant Commander Arnold
Resnicoff, first rabbi (Jewish chaplain)
on the staff of the Sixth Fleet, led a
mixed congregation of naval personnel
and their spouses, of various religions, in a brief service of silent meditation. The
10-minute service ended with the Priestly Blessing, given by Resnicoff, who is also a
Held at a tiny chapel deep inside the recently excavated portion of the Western Wall (to
the left of the plaza), the service took place at the part of the Wall where a gateway to a
passage underlying the Temple Mount was recently walled up.
Asked to comment on the mixed-sex, mixed-religion service, Ministry of Religious
Affairs representative Yonatan Yuval said the ministry was glad to organize such a
service for such distinguished visitors. Asked whether such an event would serve as a
precedent for a visit by a civilian group also led by a Conservative rabbi from the U.S.,
Yuval said this would be impossible.
Yuval confirmed that this was the first time the ministry had allowed such a mixed
service. He added that the ministry would be happy to repeat the courtesy for future
visits by the U.S. Navy.
Resnicoff was ordained a Conservative rabbi after serving as a combat naval officer in
Vietnam--then re-enlisted for a career in the naval chaplaincy. His job is to visit all the
ships in the Sixth Fleet as part of a priest-minister-rabbi team.
Since the U.S. Marines are ministered to by the navy, he shortly is to spend his sixth
visit to Beirut in recent months conducting Rosh Hashana services for Jewish marines
serving with the multi-national force. He led a seder there at Pesach.
He is the only rabbi in the navy to wear the insignia of the "Surface Warfare Officer," a
rating earned in Vietnam. Because of his service, he was chosen to be the naval
chaplain to deliver the benediction in 1982 at the dedication of the U.S. Vietnam
Veteran's Memorial in Washington.