The Rabbi Richard S. Sternberger
Endowed Scholarship Fund for
he Rabbi Richard S. Sternberger Endowed Scholarship Fund has been estab-
lished to support the studies of a rabbinical or cantorial student preparing for
military chaplaincy. This scholarship fund was created by a bequest from Rabbi
a 1952 ordinee of HUC-JIR’s Cincinnati campus, and was formally
announced at a meeting of the HUC-JIR Board of Governors on June 13, 2011 by Rabbi Laszlo Berkowits, Founding Rabbi
of Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, where Rabbi Sternberger served for many years as Adjunct Rabbi, and Sam Simon,
a congregant and friend of Rabbi Sternberger and member of HUC-JIR’s Eastern Region Board of Overseers.
Rabbi Ellenson stated, “Rabbi Sternberger was an esteemed alumnus of the College-Institute, whose life and career
were dedicated to the Reform Movement, the Jewish people, and the larger world. His staunch advocacy on behalf of civil
rights took him to Mississippi during the summer of 1964 to register African-American voters, and his commitment to
equality and social justice remained a significant cause for the duration of his life. As a Navy Chaplain for three decades,
serving in Korea and as Jewish chaplain at the Pentagon and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, he brought counseling
and comfort to enlisted men and women of all faiths. His leadership of the Union for Reform Judaism’s New Jersey Council,
New York Federation of Reform Synagogues, Mid-Atlantic Council, and Department of Small Congregations strengthened
the vitality of congregations and communities in those regions and throughout North America, while his pulpit rabbinate
was imbued with devotion to his congregants. Rabbi Sternberger’s exemplary rabbinate will endure as a source of inspira-
tion to our students for generations to come.”
A native Philadelphian, Rabbi Sternberger received his B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania (1947) and pursued graduate study at Johns Hopkins Univer-
sity and Columbia University. He received the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1977 from HUC-JIR.
Rabbi Sternberger served as a Navy Chaplain on active duty in Korea (1952-54) and continued as
a reserve Chaplain for thirty years, reaching the ranks of Captain in the U.S. Naval Reserve and com-
manding officer of the U.S.N.R.’s Washington Chaplains Company. He served as a spiritual leader of
Baltimore Hebrew Congregation (1954-58), the Jewish Community Center (today known as Kol Ami) in
White Plains, NY (1958-67), and then went on to work for the Union for Reform Judaism until his retire-
ment in 1991. During his years in Washington, he served as an adjunct rabbi at Temple Rodef Shalom in
Falls Church, VA. Also during that time, he helped to form Temple Bat Yam in Ocean City, Maryland, and
later, upon his retirement from the URJ, became its first rabbi.
Rabbi Sternberger served as Chairman of the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights during the
s and organized an AIDS education campaign in the 1980’s. In addition to being active in civil rights,
Rabbi Sternberger was a major force in NFTY, the Reform Movement’s youth organization. He cared
deeply about Jewish camping. He was also committed to supporting ARZA, the Reform Movement’s
Zionist arm, and other causes in Israel.
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
hen I consider my ongoing trip from the military to the rabbinate, I remember
these words from General Norman Schwarzkopf’s 1991 speech at the United
States Military Academy. While Schwarzkopf’s message appears beguiling in its sim-
plicity, he speaks of a complex reality, one which urges any leader to live
simultaneously in two distinct worlds.
In the first world, a commander looks at her company and sees a company –
a group of soldiers assembled to accomplish the mission at hand. That commander
observes an entire battlefield, directing subordinate units as they perform the myriad
coordinated tasks required of a combined arms team, all at the proper time, place,
and intensity. That commander pores over training schedules, operations orders, and
Similarly, a rabbi looks at his congregation and sees a congregation – a commu-
nity committed to prayer, tradition, education, and repairing the world. That rabbi looks
on from the
providing direction and meaning. That rabbi remembers the cor-
pus of Jewish tradition, providing the Jewish community with a link to the past and
a vision for the future. That rabbi often coordinates programs, schools, and services.
In the second world, however, a commander looks at her company and sees one
hundred individuals – each with fully realized human hopes and dreams, each with
the desire to live a meaningful life and benefit one’s family and one’s country. That
commander sees not a battlefield, but a foxhole. Instead of a team mission, that com-
mander focuses upon individual tasks – sandbags to fill, rifles to clean, holes to dig,
open fields to cross, bullets to dodge. Instead of coordination, that commander con-
centrates upon inspiration – children to raise, wives and husbands to satisfy, and
dreams to fulfill.
Likewise, a rabbi looks at his congregation and sees individuals – each with fully
realized human hopes and dreams, each with the desire to live a meaningful life and
benefit one’s family and one’s people. That rabbi looks on, not from the
the pew. Instead of tradition, that rabbi focuses upon the challenges of everyday life.
Instead of coordination, that rabbi concentrates upon inspiration, remembering just
how difficult it can be to choose between baseball games and Sunday school, between
an evening’s rest and Shabbat services, between
and earning the day’s wage.
Although the rabbi and the commander possess drastically different responsibil-
ities, we share the responsibility to live in both worlds. We share the obligation to
develop both competence and character, knowing that each represents a difficult and
enduring task. The first requires us to relentlessly hone our knowledge, skills, and
abilities. The latter requires us to constantly regard the world through the eyes of
another, to delay our ingrained sense of right and wrong in order to choose a higher
morality. As such, I find that my journey from the battlefield to the
only as successful as my journey from the foxhole to the pew.
Rabbinical/education student Joshua Knobel, a native of Exeter, Pennsylvania,
graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 2001 and served as a telecommuni-
cations officer in the U.S. Army for seven years. His assignments included
deployments as platoon leader in Kuwait (2003-04) and as a company com-
mander in Afghanistan (2007-08).
From the battlefield to the bimah:
Traverse from Military to Congregational Leadership
Joshua Knobel, RHSOE ’12, L ’14,
Captain, U.S. Army (Reserve)
To be a 21st-century leader, you must have two things – competence and character.”
above and left)
Rabbi Heather Borshof, N ’10, in action as a U.S. Army Chaplain.
Rabbi Richard S. Sternberger,