A former New York ambulance driver and US Navy reservist is set to become the Royal Australian Navy’s first Rabbi-Chaplain.
Rabbi Rafi Kaiserblueth was sworn in last month and will provide rabbinical and spiritual guidance, complementing his work as a clergy member of Sydney’s Emanuel Synagogue.
“It’s good to be back in, it’s all familiar and ever so slightly different,” Rabbi Kaiserblueth said.
“One of the great things I can do is introduce people to Judaism, but I’m here for everybody.
“I’m in the business of people and I offer a sense of comfort, hope and meaning.”
Rabbi Kaiserblueth was motivated to join Navy because “service was in my DNA” and he wanted to set an example.
“I very deeply believe that everybody should somehow serve,” he said.
“It doesn’t just have to be in the military.”
Born in the US after his grandparents immigrated to South America in the 1930s, Rabbi Kaiserblueth joined the US Navy Reserve while in seminary school.
He was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 2010 and then lived in the UK for six years serving as a Rabbi.
It was there he met his wife, who was from Australia.
The new family moved Down Under “with two kids and a whole bunch of suitcases” in 2016.
Rabbi Kaiserblueth became an Australian citizen last year and started the process to commission in Navy shortly after.
“I didn’t realise how much I actually missed service until I was sworn in,” he said.
“We’re only at our best when we’re bound together for the greater good, and I really missed that part of my life.”