Chaplain Avi Weiss
United States Armed Forces, Heidelberg, Germany
Jan 20, 2010
Chaplain Avi Weiss grew up in Chicago, Illinois. He holds a B.A. from Yeshiva University (1974), an M.S. in Jewish Education from YU's Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology (1976), and semicha from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (1976). His military education includes the Chaplain Officer Basic and Advanced Courses (1976, 1980), the Chaplain Reserve Component General Staff Course (1992), the Chaplain Resources Manager Course (2004) and the Army War College’s Defense Strategy Course (2007).
Chaplain Weiss entered active duty in July, 1976, at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and continued in Seoul, Korea (1978-79); Fort Bragg, NC (1980-82); and Frankfurt, Germany (1982-86). At the ten-year mark, Avi and his wife, Elcya, moved their young family to Israel. Chaplain Weiss continued in the Army Reserve from 1986-2002, training and serving in Augsburg, Munich, Kaiserslautern, Frankfurt, Vicenza, Atlanta, Heidelberg, Wurzburg, Giebelstadt and Giessen. He returned to active duty in May, 2002, serving at Fort Jackson, SC; Fort Lewis, WA; and two years in Seoul, Korea, before arriving in Heidelberg, Germany, in March, 2009. A month later, Chaplain Weiss was sent to Afghanistan for three weeks to cover Passover for troops deployed there. Since then, he has been serving in Heidelberg, Germany and, at the moment, is the only Jewish Army Chaplain in Europe.
"I look back on 35 years of being connected to the US Army as being rewarding, challenging, difficult, fun, and helping my family and me to grow in our understanding of Judaism and the world in which G-d has placed us to make a difference. The part of chaplaincy that I see as uniquely mine - my 'philosophy of ministry as a Jewish military chaplain' - as an observant Jew in a non-Jewish world, is to plant seeds:
— To plant Jewish seeds to help Jews return to their roots, by being an example, a teacher and a friend
— To plant seeds of understanding among non-Jews about authentic Jewish life and values
— To plant seeds of leadership and empowerment so that Jewish life continues after I leave an assignment
— To plant seeds of active, not just passive, kiddush Hashem in all my dealings.
Chaplain Weiss’s awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal (with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Commendation Medal (with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Achievement Medal, Army National Defense Service Ribbon (with 2 Bronze Stars), Armed Forces Reserve Medal (with 2 M Devices), Airborne Badge, and Jungle Expert Badge. Chaplain Weiss and Elcya have three children and seven grandchildren who all live in Israel.