Retired line officer and Navy Chaplain, (former) Special Asst (Values and Vision) to the Secretary of the AF, (former) AJC National Director of Interreligious Affairs
Rabbi Arnold E. Resnicoff is a consultant on interfaith values and interreligious affairs, a retired Navy chaplain, a former National Director of Interreligious Affairs for The American Jewish Committee, and a former Special Assistant (Values and Vision) to the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air force.
His military career began as a line officer in the rivers of the Mekong Delta and assignments with Naval Intelligence in Europe, before he left the Navy to attend the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he was ordained. Returning to the Navy as a chaplain following ordination, his 25 years in the Chaplain Corps included the assignment as Command Chaplain for the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM). In that role, he served as principal advisor on religion, ethics, and morals, to the USEUCOM Commander in Chief, General Wesley K. Clark; coordinated religious support for more than 100,000 U.S. military personnel and families, and served as liaison to chaplaincies and militaries throughout the USEUCOM area of responsibility: 83 nations covering 13 million square miles. He led and coordinated three International Chiefs of Chaplains Conferences in Geneva, Vienna, and Luxemburg; spoke on religion and the military at numerous other conferences in areas including Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa; served as leader for a week-long spiritual retreat for all chaplains in the Canadian military; and worked with military leaders from former Soviet Union nations as they began to deal with issues of human rights and religious freedoms within the military context.
From June 2005 through June 2006, in his role as Special Assistant (Values and Vision) to the Secretary and Chief-of-Staff of the U.S. Air Force, he helped AF leadership create a values-based vision that linked U.S. AF core values to the military oath in a way that strengthened the link of the oath to the U.S. constitution. During this time, he played a major role in the creation of the U.S. Air Force Guidelines on Religion and the Military, and traveled to U.S. Air Force Installations in more than ten nations around the world – including Iraq, Qatar, and the UAE. The Secretary of the AF awarded him the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service (the highest award the AF can present to a civilian) for his "singularly distinguished accomplishments."
In October 1983, Rabbi Resnicoff was present in Beirut, Lebanon, during the suicide attack that took the lives of 241 service members. His report, written at White House request, was read by President Ronald Reagan as the keynote address for the "Baptist Fundamentalist '84" convention, led by the Rev. Jerry Falwell. He was the driving force in the Department of Defense decision to take part in the U.S. National Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust, and the Navy representative to the committee that created the DOD Resource guide. He was sent to Iceland to lead Yom Kippur services during the historic US-USSR pre-summit meetings, and was part of the small group of Vietnam veterans who worked to create the Vietnam Veterans memorial, delivering the closing prayer at its 1982 dedication. In 2003, he coordinated and participated in a congressional visit to South Africa to draw lessons from the anti-apartheid and civil rights efforts in our two nations. In support of military and humanitarian operations in the Balkans, he worked with U.S. and NATO troops, civilian relief workers, political and military leaders, religious representatives, and refugees; represented the military in the first conference of seminary students from Kosovo, Bosnia, Albania, and Macedonia; and led a delegation representing the four official religions of Bosnia - Catholic, Eastern orthodox, Muslim and Jewish - on an historic visit to the U.S. His many other historic achievements include his leading the first interfaith service at Israel's Western Wall; the first official ceremony in Israel (held at the President's residence) in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and the first official U.S. Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony onboard a U.S. Navy ship (the USS Puget Sound, during a port visit in Malaga, Spain).
Rabbi Resnicoff has lectured widely on pluralism, religious freedom, and ethics and values, at many civilian and military forums, including the Northeastern Political Science Association; Joint Service Commission on Professional Ethics; the Defense Equal Opportunity Management institute; Pearson Peacekeeping Center in Clementsport, Nova Scotia; and the Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Israel's Bar Ilan University. He was the first chaplain to brief the Joint Chiefs of Staff and worldwide joint combatant command commanders, addressing issues of core values and quality of life. In 1996, he crafted and led the first Conference on Ethics and leadership for the Camp David staff. He was the only military delegate to attend the United Nations Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual leaders, was one of 100 religious leaders at the White House discussion with President Clinton on the way religion might combat violence in U.S. schools; and represented the U.S. military at the World Conference on Religion and Peace, in Amman, Jordan. He was the first Jewish Chaplain to attend the Naval War College, and later the first chaplain of any religion to teach there, creating the course, "Faith and Force: Religion, War, and Peace." Additionally, he helped create the annual NWC conference on Military Leadership and Professional Ethics, and was the only speaker to participate in every annual conference until his retirement from the Navy. He has been awarded numerous military awards, including the Defense Superior Service medal, Legion of Merit, four Meritorious Service Medals, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals (one with "Combat V"), the Air Force Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service, the Naval War College President's Honor Graduation Award, and the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute Commandant's Award, in addition to official military designation as a Surface Warfare Officer, and Master Training Specialist. His many civilian honors include the Chapel of Four Chaplains Hall of Heroes Gold Medallion for his work with the wounded and dying in Beirut, and the Moment Magazine international Community Service Award.
Rabbi Resnicoff is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a former board member of the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, and the Faith and Politics Institute. He is also a former member of the Rabbinical Assembly Executive Committee, the Jewish Theological Seminary Chancellor's Rabbinic Cabinet, and the U.S. Navy Chief of Chaplains Ethics Advisory Board. He has written numerous articles including "Prayer that Hurts," an article on interfaith prayer used extensively in civilian and military training programs, and a series of articles on Jewish Holy Days published in "Church-Teachers Magazine," a publication for Protestant Sunday School teachers.