Vietnam – A Jewish Chaplain’s Impact

A regular JIG reader sent in a link to this touching article from Tablet Magazine. It’s about Chaplain Meir Engel’s inspirational interaction with Pvt Richard Eisenberg, an MP in 1964, Soc Trang, Vietnam, which changed Pvt Eisenberg’s life.

LtCol Engel was the first Jewish Chaplain in Vietnam, who later died in Vietnam and is memorialized on the Jewish Chaplain’s Monument, at Arlington National Cemetery.

Engel loved his job. He’d arrived in Vietnam that summer, right around the time Eisenberg did. He’d fought in the Haganah para-military organization and departed pre-state Israel for New York in 1937 to attend the Jewish Theological Seminary. But Engel left his first pulpit, in Philadelphia, to volunteer in the U.S. military, and he was sent to postwar Japan. He returned to the United States to lead congregations in Greensboro, N.C., and Beverly, Mass., but gave up synagogue life for the chaplaincy, which included serving the Army Command in Heidelberg, Germany, then South Korea and two posts stateside.


It’s a fantastic example of the impact chaplains can have on service members that go well beyond leading a service. It’s clear that Rabbi Engel’s council affected Eisenberg far beyond his time in Vietnam and the Army.

See the full article here: