About Rabbi Bonnie Koppell

Rabbi Bonnie Koppell serves as Associate Rabbi to the Temple Chai community in Phoenix, Arizona, where she also directs the Deutsch Family Shalom Center.  A native of Brooklyn, New York, she is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College where she received a Doctor of Divinity degree in 2006. She holds a Master’s Degree in Religion from Temple University. She was granted a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brandeis University and graduated Magna Cum Laude with High Honors in Philosophy. In 2013 she earned a Master of Strategic Studies from the US Army War College.  Rabbi Koppell was one of the first women in the United States to be ordained as a Rabbi.

Rabbi Koppell was recognized as “Outstanding Young Leader of the Year” for the City of Mesa, Arizona in 1994.  She was the recipient of the City of Mesa Martin Luther King Celebration’s “Spirit of Unity” award and received the “Celebration of Success” award from Impact for Enterprising Women. The Arizona Cactus Pine Girl Scout Council awarded Rabbi Koppell its “World of People” award.  She has served as Grand Marshal for the City of Mesa Veteran’s Day Parade and was Mesa’s “Woman of the Year” in 2004.  In 2007 she was invited to the White House to offer the opening prayer at a meeting of Jewish leaders with the President of the United States, George W. Bush. In 2010 she was named as one of the Forward’s “Sisterhood 50 – America’s Influential Women Rabbis.”

Rabbi Koppell is very active in the greater Phoenix community.  She has served as president of the Board of Directors of the East Valley Child Crisis Center and is Past President of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Phoenix. She helped to draft the City of Mesa’s ethics code, served on the Boards of the Jewish Family and Children’s Service, as well as the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Rabbi Koppell served as a Chaplain (Colonel) in the United States Army Reserve for 38 years.  CH Koppell was commissioned as a 2LT Chaplain Candidate in 1978.  Upon her ordination in 1981, she became the first female Rabbi to serve in the U.S. Military.

Chaplain (Col) Koppell has received many military awards, including three Meritorious Service medals, two Army Achievement medals, Army Physical Fitness Excellence awards, and an Army Commendation medal. She served a year of active duty in support of Operation Noble Eagle and was awarded the Global War on Terrorism medal for her service in Iraq in 2005.  She is also a member of The Quartermasters Association Honorable Order of St. Martin. Chaplain (Col) Koppell spent Passover in Iraq in 2005, Chanukkah 2005/2006 with Jewish service members in Kuwait and Afghanistan, and was deployed to Iraq for Passover 2006. She returned to Afghanistan in 2008/2009, celebrated Passover in Kuwait in 2010, and in 2014.  In 2012 she was awarded the Legion of Merit by the 63D Regional Support Command.  She received a second Legion of Merit from the 807th Medical Command (Deployment Support) in 2016.  Rabbi Koppell received the annual Jewish Military Professional’s Award from the JWB Jewish Chaplain’s Council in 2018.  She was inducted into the Army Women’s Foundation Hall of Fame in March 2019.

Rabbi Koppell’s writings have been published in numerous books and journals. She is a frequent newspaper columnist and much sought-after speaker. She was married to David Rubenstein, PhD., of blessed memory, and is the parent of two daughters, Jessie and Sarah, and grandmother of Helena Ruth, Michael David, Leon Brom, and Lily Phyllis.   She married Ron Kushner in December 2016.