An official Jewish religious officer was appointed to provide religious services to Jewish soldiers in the Ukrainian military on Friday for the first time.
Rabbi David Milman, who has worked with Jewish soldiers in the Ukrainian military for many years, was appointed to the role. His role will be to handle all religious affairs among Jewish soldiers in the military.
Milman was appointed by Colonel Olaxy Trashok, who is responsible on the behalf of the Ukrainian chief of staff for all religious services in the Ukrainian military. The appointment was done at the Kyiv Jewish Community Center, where a ceremony was held at the office of Ukrainian Chief Rabbi Moshe Asman.
As part of the ceremony, Rabbi Milman was presented with an official letter of appointment, from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and the Ukrainian Chief of Staff, formally appointing him as religious officer for Jews serving in the Ukrainian army. This means he will have sole responsibility for all matters concerning the Jewish religion among Jewish soldiers serving in the Ukrainian army. He has been fulfilling this role informally for many years after being sent on a mission by the Chief Rabbi of Ukraine, Moshe Azman.
First Ukrainian Jewish religious officer
The position of a Jewish religious military chaplain exists in other militaries, such as the US and various European countries. However, this is the first instance of the position existing in the history of the Ukrainian military. In foreign armies where most soldiers are not Jewish, the role of Jewish chaplains is of great importance. Not only does he take care of the soldier's spiritual needs, but he also represents them in front of senior military officers.
Chief Rabbi Moshe Azman said at the ceremony that his appointment marked the closing of a circle in which, on Holocaust remembrance day, a Jewish cleric is appointed to the Ukrainian army. He also thanked the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and the Ukrainian Chief of Staff, whom he called a dear friend and true friend of the Jewish people.