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Seattle, WA - Chabad Rabbi Becomes First Bearded Officer In US Air Force

Published on: August 4, 2015 05:58 PM
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Rabbi Elie Estrin celebrates a new landmark a year-and-a-half after becoming the US Air Force's first bearded chaplain following the lifting of a ban on displays of religious belief.Rabbi Elie Estrin celebrates a new landmark a year-and-a-half after becoming the US Air Force's first bearded chaplain following the lifting of a ban on displays of religious belief.

Seattle, WA - In 2014 Rabbi Elie Estrin became the first chaplain in the US Air Force, and this week he celebrated a new landmark as he upgraded to the post of the Air Force’s first bearded officer.

Rabbi Estrin is, together with his wife Chaya, the co-director of the Rohr Chabad House for Jewish Life at the University of Washington in Seattle. He graduated on Monday from Officer Training School at the Maxwell Air Force base in Montgomery, Alabama.

In January of 2014, the military ban on wearing a beard and other such displays of religious belief, was lifted by the Pentagon, paving the way for Rabbi Estrin to join the military chaplaincy.

During the five week Commissioned Officer Training Course, Rabbi Estrin ate Kosher MRE’s (ready-to-eat meals) and said that staff were fantastic about facilitating his required accommodations, some of which included his adherence to Shabbat and the 25 hour fast of Tisha Be’av, a day which commemorates the destruction of the second temple in Jerusalem.

Estrin, 35, and father of five, described his work for the armed services as “a logical extension of his existing service to the Jewish community”.

In his 11 years serving the Jewish student community at the University of Washington, Estrin notes that out of the many students with whom he and his wife had a close rapport with, more than a dozen had gone on to join the military. After speaking with an alumnus who had served with the US Army Rangers, Estrin became convinced that chaplaincy was an ideal fit.

Estrin said, “The AF leadership training was exceptional, and I believe it will assist me in my work both on campus and as an Air Force chaplain. I’m looking forward to getting back to work and applying it all in the real world.”


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Read Comments (9)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Aug 04, 2015 at 06:44 PM Pinteleyid Says:

Hats off to this rabbi and all the devoted Shluchim of Chabad!
The Jewish world cannot thank you enough for your self sacrifice

2

 Aug 04, 2015 at 09:38 PM Anonymous Says:

While I gladly welcome CH Estrin to our proud Brotherhood and wish him a mazal tov and much success, for purposes of clarification: CH Estrin is NOT the first AF Chaplain nor is he the first Jewish Chaplain in the AF. He's the first Jewish AF Chaplain with a beard.

3

 Aug 04, 2015 at 09:42 PM PaulinSaudi Says:

Why did this take so long? We have had bearded Army officers forever.

4

 Aug 05, 2015 at 12:09 AM Chaim Says:

Where are all the other chareidi musmachim when chaplains are needed in hospitals, prisons and the military. Hooray for the dedication of Chabad!

5

 Aug 05, 2015 at 10:19 AM Anonymous Says:

Rav Lazer Zilber ZT"L was a US Army Chaplain and had a beard. What's the big deal if Estrin has a beard or wears a mustache like Charlie Chaplain?? These days there is no big deal of having a beard -the greatest enemy's of Israel currently all wear beards. To me it seems that the writers of this unworthy news place importance and value on matters of vanity and foolishness.

6

 Aug 05, 2015 at 10:54 AM Anonymous Says:

General Ulysses Grant wore a beard- so what is the greatness about it? The Lubavitcher Rebbe too graduated university while wearing a beard. The state of Israel is loaded with army staff that have beards.
Is this VIN or some dumb tabloid news?

7

 Aug 05, 2015 at 01:37 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
Chaim Says:

Where are all the other chareidi musmachim when chaplains are needed in hospitals, prisons and the military. Hooray for the dedication of Chabad!

They're busy posting comments about how they don't agree with Chabad and about how sad it is that most Jews are not observant.

8

 Aug 05, 2015 at 01:43 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #5  
Anonymous Says:

Rav Lazer Zilber ZT"L was a US Army Chaplain and had a beard. What's the big deal if Estrin has a beard or wears a mustache like Charlie Chaplain?? These days there is no big deal of having a beard -the greatest enemy's of Israel currently all wear beards. To me it seems that the writers of this unworthy news place importance and value on matters of vanity and foolishness.

The big deal, which we get and you obviously don't, is that the military has a number of requirements that have prevented religious people from several religions from serving as chaplains. This includes Sikhs (beard and turban) as well as frum Jews. The policy has now been changed so these people can enlist. That's it. I don't understand why you find it unworthy to mention that frum Jews can now serve as chaplain to Jews in the military or think it is a matter of vanity that a frum Jewish man has a beard.

9

 Aug 06, 2015 at 03:20 PM chaimss Says:

Please correct this article. Rabbi Estrin is obviously not the first Air Force Chaplain (obviously a typo), but nor is he the 1st Jewish Chaplain, 1st Frum Chaplain, or even the 1st bearded Chaplain, Frum or not. What Rabbi Estrin is doing is amazing, but please don't put down the >20 Frum Air Force chaplains that have served since 1948, nor the other 3 that have worn beards while in the Reserves. Perhaps VIN (and others) should do an article on all the Frum Servicemembers currently serving, instead of just picking out one or two.

10

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