Female rabbi making history as Army chaplain

December 31, 1992|By New York Times News Service

WOODBRIDGE, Conn. -- When she was 38, Chana Timone achieved one of her career goals: She was ordained as a Conservative rabbi. Now, at 41, she has achieved another: She is becoming a soldier.

In the process, she is making history.

Rabbi Timoner, an officer in the Army Reserve, will be the first Jewish woman to hold a long-term assignment as a chaplain in the Army, says Lt. Col. Marilla Cushman, an Army spokeswoman. In the past, female rabbis in the Reserve, including Rabbi Timoner, have been called up for active duty, but only briefly, she says.

"I wanted to join the Army ever since I was a little kid just like my mom," Rabbi Timoner says. Her mother, Mary Surasky, was so eager to join that she enlisted in the Canadian army in the 1940s, before the United States had established the Women's Army Corps. Once the WAC was established, she shifted her application to the American force and was accepted.

"Chana is doing everything I would have liked to do," Mrs. Surasky says.

Rabbi Timoner will be stationed Jan. 18 at Fort Bragg, N.C., and dreams of serving overseas.

"My husband is extremely proud of me because I made history, but he's ambivalent because he'll be alone," she says.

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