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Home Town Greensboro, NC
Last Address Virginia Beach, VA
Date of Passing Apr 05, 2007
Location of Interment Forest Lawn Cemetery - Norfolk, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates Not Specified
Military Service Number Not Specified
Last Known Activity
Rabbi Samuel Sobel, Ed. D., D.D., captain, Chaplain Corps, U.S. Navy retired, died peacefully April 5, 2007.
Rabbi Sobel, who entered the military as a reserve Navy chaplain, broke barriers when he was the first rabbi appointed to the regular U.S. Navy and during his 30-year span of active duty in the Chaplain Corps, he held numerous pastoral and administrative posts in this country and overseas. Chaplain Sobel had a distinguished military career; his last military assignment was The Chaplain, U.S. Marine Corps, the highest chaplaincy post in the Marines, of which he was the first and only Jewish chaplain to reach that position.
Rabbi Sobel was an habitual scholar, graduating from Gratz College, the orthodox rabbinical seminary, New York's Yeshiva University, and also from the reform seminary, New York's Jewish Institute of Religion-Hebrew Union College. As a rabbinical student, his mentor was Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, founder of the Jewish Institute of Religion. Collectively, Rabbi Sobel received numerous post-graduate degrees.
Rabbi Sobel's wartime assignments included Hawaii and the Pacific, Korea, Lebanon and Vietnam, for which he earned the Bronze Star with Combat "V," the Purple Heart, Navy Commendation, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for Lebanon, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Defense Identification Badge and numerous other medals including the Legion of Merit for his work as the executive director of the Secretary of Defense Armed Forces Chaplains Board, awarded personally by Secretary of Defense Robert MacNamara, and later a Legion of Merit Gold Star, in lieu of a second Legion of Merit for his accomplishments as The Chaplain, U.S. Marine Corps. He was the only Jewish chaplain wounded in battle during the Korean War. Chaplain Sobel felt an allegiance to those serving in dangerous capacities and disregarded concerns for his own personal safety, while choosing to attend to the front line and forward aid stations when in war.
During his military career, he also reported directly to many U.S. presidents, from Eisenhower to Nixon, working with notables like the Rev. Billy Graham and the late Cardinal John O'Connor, who was a dear friend. In 2000, alongside President Bill Clinton, Senator John Glenn and Secretary of Defense William Cohen, Rabbi Sobel was honored by being a dignitary and guest speaker when he participated in the dedication of the Korean War Memorial, Washington, D.C. That war memorial also depicts engraved photographic images of his likeness, permanently etched into the granite.
Rabbi Sobel was predeceased by his parents and brothers; his beloved wife and "shipmate," Shirley, who had also served as an officer in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps; and also by Selma. Survivors include his three daughters, Arleen R. Sobel, Barbara Coleman and husband Harvey and Karen Sachs and husband Warren; grandchildren, Sharon Blumenthal, Julie Blumenthal and husband John, Ashley and Stefan Coleman and Matthew, Scott and Benjamin Sachs; and great-grandson, Jonathan.
The information contained in this profile was compiled from various internet sources.