Rabbi Arnold E. Resnicoff is a consultant on interfaith values and interreligious affairs, a retired Navy Chaplain, a former Special Assistant for Values and Vision to the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, and a former National Director of Interreligious Affairs for the American Jewish Committee. Rabbi Resnicoff’s Navy career included early service as an enlisted reservist in a submarine unit while still in high school, and then -- after graduation from Dartmouth NROTC -- more than 28 years on active duty, including service as a line officer in the rivers of Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, as part of Operation Game Warden, the effort to keep the rivers free of Viet Cong infiltrators. As part of that assignment, he was onboard the first U.S. commissioned vessel to enter the waters of Cambodia in 1970.
He later served with Naval Intelligence in Europe before leaving active duty to attend rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary, in New York. Returning to the Navy following ordination as a rabbi, his distinguished career culminated with his assignment as top chaplain for all U.S. military forces operating in Europe, most of Africa, and some of the Middle East, serving as Command Chaplain for the U.S. European Command. One of a small number of Vietnam veterans who worked to create the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, Rabbi Resnicoff delivered the closing prayer at its 1982 dedication.
He was the driving force behind the military’s decision to participate in the National Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust (DRVH) and served as the Navy’s representative for the DOD Guide to Holocaust Remembrance observances. In 1983, with the special approval of the Israeli Ministry of Religious Affairs, he led the first official interfaith service attended by both men and women ever conducted at Jerusalem’s Western Wall, inside the then recently excavated Wilson’s Arch. He also led the first official Martin Luther King, Jr., ceremony ever held in Israel -- at the President’s residence; the first conference on ethics and leadership at Camp David; and delivered the prayer at the Presidential signing of the repeal of the U.S. military’s policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
The first Jewish Chaplain to attend the Naval War College, he received the NWC President’s Honor Graduate Award, and later taught the class, Faith and Force: Religion, War, and Peace, the first course taught by a chaplain at any U.S. military war college. Present at the October 23, 1983 suicide truck bomb attack in Beirut, Lebanon – the first modern suicide attack against American forces -- his report of that event, written at White House request, was read by then President Ronald Reagan as his keynote speech to the late Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Baptist Fundamentalism ‘84’ Convention in Washington, DC.