On Wednesday, June 17, 2022, The United States Chaplains Corps (USCC) celebrated the graduation of 230 chaplains, their largest group of graduates to date. Guests, honorees, and attendees included a supreme court judge, a career army chaplain, and delegations from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, U.S. Airforce, and Coast Guard.
The event was held at the Ohr Naava event space in Brooklyn, New York. Attendees were greeted with festive blue banners lining the entryway gates and listing all graduates. Once inside there was a lavish buffet courtesy of Subsational in Brooklyn and donated by Chaplain Gary Gani.
The event was emceed by USCC Director-General Chaplain Mendy Coën, with a welcome speech and a greeting by Chaplain Rachel Weingarten, Director Women’s Division.
The overall message of the evening was hope, even in times of great despair and unrest and all the while coming together to make the world a better place. Optimism was a recurring theme in the addresses of almost all the speakers.
Hightlights of the event included the recognition of three inspirational individuals who were recognized for decades of service to others. All three were awarded the title of an honorary chaplain by the USCC, and presented with stunning plaques commemorating their new titles.
The evening’s honorees were Judge Miriam Sunshine of the New York State Supreme Court, who was recognized for her commitment to justice, Colonel Chaplain Jacob Goldstein previously referred to as the “Rabbi of Ground Zero,” who was recognized for his celebrated career in the United States Army and Judith Weingarten Silber, a child Holocaust survivor, who was recognized for her decades of community service.
Each of the three honorees spoke of their own journeys, challenges, and great rewards in lives punctuated by their service to others.
NYPD Chief Chaplain Rabbi Alvin Kass began the event with a warm and inspiring address to the graduating chaplains.
Chaplain Mendy Coën emotionally spoke about the staggering statistics and devastating effects of alcoholism, drug overdoses, and death by suicide in our country. He offered the remedy of service to others by chaplains to offer balance, healing, and faith.
Chaplain Martin Langesfeld, who lost his sister Nicole “Nicky” Langesfeld and her husband Luis Sadovnic in the Surfside, Florida, condo collapse spoke about his unexpected journey to becoming a chaplain and community advocate in the aftermath of the disaster. Langesfeld said the work of the USCC at Surfside was his inspiration for his current path and mission.
Captain Chaplain Danny Black from Fort Bragg U.S. Army Base spoke movingly about having his own faith and optimism for the future renewed after spending time with all the chaplains who attended the event and graduated with the shared commitment of service to others.
Chaplain Dr. Melody Miller of the U.S. Navy spoke about her own path of faith and commitment, and inspiration at meeting the new graduates.
Chaplains David Zicherman, Jacob Elefant, Rabbi Binyamin Ginsberg, and Susan Kramer commemorated the late Rabbi Chaplain Zechariah Wallerstein, a guiding presence in USCC’s soon-to-be-launched Junior Chaplains (Junior Chaps) division. They announced the Wallerstein mission for younger chaplains.
The evening ended with an accelerated and joyous roll call of all 230 chaplains by Chaplain Weingarten. Graduates were then presented with their diplomas and congratulated by USCC Administrator, Chaplain Chalmers Beard.
Chaplain Ollie, the USCC’s favorite furry chaplain made an unexpected visit to the graduation event.
NYPD Deputy Chief Charles M. “Chucky” Scholl, who served as Chief of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South as well as General Director Law Enforcement was scheduled to speak at the event but passed away suddenly. A joint USCC/NYPD memorial service for Scholl will be announced in the coming weeks.