Faith and Foxholes: Religion in the Military
Recommended for Friday Night
A presentation combining history and policy with anecdotes and personal experiences that provide a
glimpse into the role of the chaplain and the challenges and opportunities facing personnel who want to be
loyal to their faith at the same time they are loyal to their country.

Church and State issues, including the Constitutional guarantee of "free exercise of religion," have led to the
current Department of Defense policy to support religious free exercise to the greatest extent
possible--given the military situation.  On the other hand, the so-called "separation of Church and State"
constantly raises questions about the limits of support the government or the military can
provide--including the legitimacy of the Chaplain Corps itself.

This presentation is appreciated by congregants across the board: those with little knowledge of the
military chaplaincy--or the military itself--or those with past military experience,  who are often fascinated
by the sweeping changes in the military of today.  A number of factors, including the change to a volunteer
military, Church-and-State decisions in both military and civilian courts, and the Department of Defense
emphasis on Quality of Life (especially in today's largely "married military"), have had an impact on
policies and decisions in every area of military life.
Faith and Force: Religion, War, and Peace
Swords and Plowshares: Jewish Views of War and Peace
Recommended for Saturday morning or lunch
This presentation combines Jewish sources--Bible, Talmud, and Codes--with personal experiences
in combat settings from Vietnam -- to Beirut -- to Bosnia -- and beyond.

This talk provides a Jewish approach to decisions regarding responses to the threat of violence and
evil in our world.  It looks at sources in the Jewish tradition that compel us to "seek peace and
pursue it," in possible tension with those that command us "not to stand idly by the blood of our

This presentation stresses the idea that a firm view of reality must give our decisions
but at the same time the Jewish dreams of peace must give those decisions--and our

This presentation contain a good deal of historic Jewish scholarship, but those ideas are tested
against real-life experiences.  Understanding how ancient ideas withstand the test of battle helps us
as we try to make decisions for the future based on--or at least touched by--Jewish values.
Dreams from Nightmares: The Jewish Way to Remember
Recommended for Saturday afternoon/evening or Sunday morning
This is a presentation filled with serious information, and yet also filled with warmth and humor, focusing on the real people in
today's military.  It is a perfect talk for a Friday evening, laying the groundwork for the rest of the weekend.
Judaism stresses the command: "zachor" -- remember.  And yet
Elie Wiesel, in many ways the Jewish poet of remembrance,
returned from a trip to the former Yugoslavia with the
impression that memory was too often the problem, not the
solution:  too many times, people based their decisions--and
staked their emotions--on memories of whose grandfather killed
whose grandfather.  And so the cycle of hatred continues, paving
the way for the cycle of violence it supports.

This tension between the power of memory for good and the
danger of memory for evil establishes the framework for this
presentation.  Like all sessions over the weekend, this talk
focuses on issues that are extremely serious, but manages to introduce a good deal of humor along the way.

This is a presentation that can help congregants understand the Jewish approach to memory: a challenge for the
individual--and for a people.  It is a good ending for a weekend, because it deals with questions--and challenges--that face us all.
If this is the first time that Rabbi Resnicoff has visited, it is strongly recommended that you plan a weekend based on the
presentations listed above.
These are crafted to give a balance of information and experience--and seriousness and humor.
However, there are many additional topics that might be addressed either as part of a weekend or as a one-time
presentation.  The following represents a partial listing:

Between the Commandments:  Struggling with the Values Behind the Commandments
Yom HaShoa:  Teaching the Four Children to Remember
Terrorist Nightmares and Jewish Dreams: Ethical Responses to Terrorism
Leadership: Military Lessons--not just for military leaders!    
The Three Israels: People, Faith, and Land (An introduction to Judaism)
Not Slaves, But Not Gods: The Lessons of Jewish Holy Days
Religious Accommodation: The Military Approach
 Military Core Values: How They Work -- or Should
The Seder Behind the Seder: A Passover Workshop
First Holocaust ceremony onboard U.S.Navy Ship: Crafted and coordinated
by Rabbi Resnicoff, USS Puget Sound, Malaga, Spain, 1984.
This postcard--leading services in the
Yokosuka, Japan, Jewish
Chapel--was made available to
Jewish personnel serving in the
Western Pacific. The caption
reassured parents that there were
Jewish resources available to their
sons and daughters in uniform--even
as far away as Japan!  1976
Rabbi Arnold E. Resnicoff,
Captain, Chaplain Corps,
U.S. Navy, Retired
Link to more photos.
Special Alternative Lecture:
Interfaith Relations: From Diatribe to Dialogue -- and Beyond
A lecture on interfaith relations covering (1) challenges, (2) "rules"
("rules of engagement"), and (3) goals--based on four decades of
interfaith experience.
Consider coordinating this lecture as a special co-sponsored community
event, involving other synagogues and churches, local interfaith councils,
universities, JCCs, or your local Federation.
An extraordinarily important topic for our times!