One of the first women rabbis ordained, Bonnie Koppell became the first woman rabbi to serve as a US military chaplain. Koppell joined the Army Reserves in 1979 and was ordained as a Reconstructionist rabbi in 1981. She trained at Fort Dix and the US Army Chaplain School. In 1991, during Operation Desert Storm, she served at the Academy of Health Sciences at Fort Sam Houston, neat San Antonio, Texas, where she was to be the only rabbi on staff for the anticipated casualties from Iraq. She was then assigned to the 164th Corps Support Group in Mesa, Arizona. Koppell was called to active duty again in 2003, serving at the US Army Europe headquarters in Germany and in Operation Noble Eagle. She was awarded the Global War on Terrorism medal in 2005 and the Legion of Merit in 2012. She deployed to Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq to help Jewish service members celebrate the holidays. As of 2014, Colonel Rabbi Koppell serves as Command Chaplain of the 63rd Regional Support Command as well as rabbi of Temple Chai in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2004, she was honored as “Woman of the Year” by the city of Mesa, Arizona.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Bonnie Koppell." (Viewed on November 21, 2014) <http://jwa.org/people/koppell-bonnie>.