Meet the 1st Jewish, female U.S. Air Force chaplain

Capt. Sarah Schechter is the 1st ever female Air Force Rabbi in the 40-years of women serving as chaplains in the U.S. military.

Capt. Sarah Schechter, the Jewish chaplain of the 11th Wing at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, is the first ever female U.S. Air Force rabbi in 40 years of women serving as military chaplains, according to a recent feature on U.S. military website,

 Capt. Sarah Schechter.

Screen shot showing Capt. Sarah Schechter.

A New York native, Schechter, whose father was a rabbi, told that she decided to enlist because of September 11, when she was in her fourth year of rabbinical school.

“Within seconds of the attack on our country, the military suddenly stopped being an undefined culture I was vaguely familiar with and their mission became absolutely clear – protection of our country, protection of our loved ones, protection of our very lives,” she told the website.

“The next day, September 12, I called the recruiter and the rest is history.”

Schechter’s father was an Air Force chaplain in 1960, something that also influenced her decision to join up, according to

As a chaplain, the rabbi’s mission includes representing Judaism and serving as a link between other faiths. Despite being the first and only female rabbi to undertake the task in the Air Force, Schechter wouldn’t necessarily call herself a “trailblazer.”

“I’m an officer, I’m a rabbi, and I want to do my best to represent the military and Judaism in the best light possible. I’m grateful to the women in the chaplaincy who preceded me because I truly stand on the shoulder of giants,” she said.


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