Rabbi Julie Schwartz: The U.S.’s First Female Military Chaplain – and the Associate Dean of HUC

The American Jewish Archives contains records of Jewish leaders serving as chaplains in the US military dating back to the Civil War; however, not until 1986 did the first commissioned active-duty female chaplain join such ranks. Cincinnati native Julie Schwartz was a student at HUC-JIR in Cincinnati in 1985 when she received ecclesiastical approval from the Jewish Welfare Board to enter the Theological Student Seminarian Program of the Navy. Following her ordination from HUC-JIR, in May 1986, Schwartz secured a post at the Naval Hospital in Oakland, California, earning the Naval Commendation award after her three-year tour.

Rabbi Schwartz is currently the Associate Dean of HUC-JIR in Cincinnati, a Certified Supervisor of Clinical Pastoral Education, Adjunct Associate Professor of Human Relations, and Director of the Stein Program on the Cincinnati Campus.

Black and white photograph of Rabbi Julie Schwartz breaking matzo with three soldiers.

Rabbi Julie Schwartz (right) holding matzo with soldiers. American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, OH.

Rabbi Julie Schwartz (middle), in uniform. Two men stand on either side of her. Four flags are behind them, including the U.S. flag.

Rabbi Julie Schwartz (middle), in uniform. American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, OH.

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