By Hamil R. Harris
Air Force Major General Cecil Richardson shared the unique life of a military chaplain during special services at Arlington National Cemetery this week to dedicate monument honoring 14 rabbis who died while serving in the U.S. military. Among those on the plaque that now stands on “Chaplain Hill,” is the name of Rabbi Alexander Goode, a former resident of the District, who died with three other chaplains aboard the USS Dorchester when he was sunk by a German torpedo during WWII.
During the program, which was held in the Arlington ampitheater, Richardson called all military chaplains “warriors,” who are much more then members of the clergy in uniform. “We go where warriors go, we do what warriors do. We live with our warriors, we are the priest, ministers and rabbis and imams to our warriors.”
Richardson went onto say that it is critically important that everyone who served as a chaplain be represented on Chaplains Hill.
In addition to the monument for Catholic and Protestant chaplains, there is now a Jewish Chaplains Memorial for the Jewish rabbis who served. On the hill, there is also a fresh grave that belongs to Simeon Kobrinetz, 83, a rabbi and former Air Force chaplain who later became director of the Chaplain Service of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Kobrinetz, who died last month of renal failure at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, was the first Air Force rabbi to reach the rank of brigadier general. His son David Kobrinetz attended the dedication of the memorial because he said one of father’s final efforts was to help to place a monument for the rabbis on “Chaplain’s Hill.”
“As important as the recognition is for rabbis, their families and Jews across America,” David Kobrinetz said. “even more important is the recognition that we are people of one nation, despite our differences.”