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British Jewish Chaplaincy in the First World War, by Jonathan Lewis

Introduction by Paula Kitching

When countries go to war, it is usual for their religious leaders to go with them, at least in spirit. The First World War was no different. Since the British forces in 1914 were made up of men and women from a variety of religions, clerics from all the different faiths, including Judasim, needed to play an active role. In times of conflict a fighting man needed his God!

In the article below (PDF download), Jonathan Lewis explores the history of the Jewish Chaplaincy in the British Armed Services and describes how the numbers rose. Starting with one Jewish Chaplain in 1909, there were over 20 by the end of the First World War. 

The challenges faced by a minority religion in terms of access to people and supporting all those in need is addressed. Lewis tells us why the Jewish burial service was written out for Christian chaplains and what responses the authorities had in allowing Jewish services take place. He provides plenty of thought about the Jewish Chaplains stories and the dilemmas that they and their congregation may have faced.

Download Jonathan Lewis full article


Visit the life story of one of the Jewish Chaplains Nehemiah Goldston (1864-1944)



Jonathan Lewis is a doctoral student at University College London researching the history of Jewish Chaplaincy in the British Armed Forces. He would welcome any information, documents, photos, memoirs and recollections from the descendants of chaplains and from, for example, people who in the Second World War or as post- war national servicemen encountered Jewish chaplains. He may be contacted on lewisjandr2004@yahoo.co.uk

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London Jews in the First World War - We Were There Too

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