Gender EquityGAMBIER, Ohio (March 21, 2005) Fighting for gender equity in the military is an ongoing battle for American women, but for Bonnie Koppell, the issue has been complex. Koppell first had to overcome the obstacle of being accepted by her Jewish peers, prior to becoming the first female rabbi to serve in any branch of the United States military.
Koppell will share her experiences on Monday, March 28, at 7:30 p.m. in the College's Peirce Lounge.
Koppell will relay her struggle for the requisite "ecclesiastical endorsement," a recommendation that spiritual leaders must garner from their peers before the military will recognize them as chaplains. Not an easy task in the late 1970's, when some of her peers refused to acknowledge female rabbis at all. Koppell will also speak about her experiences in a variety of locations and units, including a year of active duty in support of Operation Noble Eagle, the first noticeable action taken in the war on terror following the September 11 attacks.
A member of the military since 1978, Koppell holds the rank of colonel in the United States Army Reserve and is the group chaplain for the 164th support group in Phoenix, Arizona. She has received many military awards, including two army achievement medals, an army commendation medal, and three army physical fitness excellence awards.
A graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Koppell holds a master's degree in religion from Temple University. She has served as the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Sholom in Mesa, Arizona, since 1987.
Koppell's visit is sponsored by Kenyon's chapter of Hillel and is open to the public without charge.