The Office of the Chaplain United States House of Representatives

Rabbi Jeffrey Astrachan

Temple Beth Israel
York, PA

Sponsor: Rep. Todd Platts, (R-PA)
Date of Prayer: 02/07/2012

One Minute Speech Given in Recognition of the Guest Chaplain:

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Without objection, the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Platts) is recognized for 1 minute.

There was no objection.


Mr. PLATTS. Mr. Speaker, I am honored to host our guest chaplain, Rabbi Jeffrey Astrachan, to give today's opening prayer . Rabbi Astrachan is here today to help honor the sacrifice of the four chaplains who gave their lives during the sinking of the troop ship Dorchester during World War II. This is especially significant because one of the four chaplains, Lieutenant Alexander D. Goode, was once a rabbi with the same congregation in York, Pennsylvania, my hometown that Rabbi Astrachan now serves.

Along with the rabbi, I am pleased to take this opportunity to recognize the courageous sacrifice made 69 years ago by the four chaplains. The Dorchester was torpedoed off the coast of Greenland. Only 230 of the over–900 men on
board survived. The survivors recounted the story of the heroic actions of the four chaplains of different faiths: Lieutenant Goode; Lieutenant John Washington, a Catholic priest; and Lieutenants George Fox and Clark Poling, two protestant ministers.

These four servants of God spent their last 18 minutes in this life helping their fellow passengers to safety. When there were no more life jackets to hand out, the chaplains removed their own and gave them to shipmates. They were last seen on the hull of the ship, arm–in–arm in prayer as the ship sank into the icy waters.

Chaplains Hill at Arlington National Cemetery is home to several memorials to chaplains. Last year, the United States House of Representatives adopted legislation to include a memorial to the 14 Jewish chaplains who gave their lives in World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. Today, we honor not just the four chaplains of the Dorchester, but the sacrifices and selflessness made by military chaplains of all faiths.

(Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend her remarks.)
Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the incredible story of the USAT Dorchester's four chaplains . The brave ‘‘immortal chaplains ,'' a Jewish rabbi, a Catholic priest, and two Protestant ministers, selflessly provided comfort and guidance to their interfaith community aboard the transport ship as it sunk into icy waters on February 3, 1943. These leaders of different faiths gave up their lifejackets and stood strong, singing prayers and hymns, sharing words of healing and peace as the ship went down.

We are so fortunate to have Rabbi Astrachan here with us today to help honor their sacred memory. Rabbi Astrachan currently serves the same congregation in York, Pennsylvania, where Rabbi Goode, one of the four chaplains , once served, continuing to honor his legacy.

The four chaplains , Reverend George Fox, Rabbi Alexander Goode, Father John Washington, and Reverend Clark Poling, serve as inspirations in their military service and their sacrifice for our country. Their quintessentially American tale of faith and courage now has an ending we can proudly commemorate, as all four of these men are honored and memorialized together on Chaplain's Hill at Arlington National Cemetery.

For nearly 200 years, our Nation's breathtaking military cemetery has been a place to honor all of America's fallen soldiers, providing the sacred and majestic setting fitting to our Nation's heroes. Thanks to the dedication of many of my colleagues, we now have monuments at Chaplain's Hill to each of these faith groups, where we can honor their sacrifice together. This is a testament to the courage and commitment of all who have served our Nation in this way, and I am so honored to share in this observance with chaplains , members of the military, veterans, religious community advocates, family, and friends.

(Mr. MILLER of Florida asked and was given permission to address the House

Opening Prayer Given by the Guest Chaplain:

Almighty source of strength, peace and compassion, I stand humbly before You to ask Your blessing upon those who serve our great Nation, to all who dedicate themselves to its prosperity and security.

Grant to each Member of this House the wisdom and vision to look steadfastly toward our future, to labor earnestly for the welfare of all, and to consider wholeheartedly the passion and sacrifice of those who came before us, who helped to preserve and foster the noblest ideals for which our Nation stands.

Today, especially, we consider the valor of those four Army chaplains whose selfless acts of heroism 69 years ago not only saved the lives of others, but inspire us to serve in our own day to continue our partnership in Your ever–unfolding acts of creation on Earth.

May the memories of the four chaplains and the ideals for which they lived ever remain a blessing.


To learn more about Members who have sponsored a Guest Chaplain, please visit the Congressional Biographical Directory