Norman Rosenshein and Dr. Barry Schneider at NATO HQ.

By Dr. Barry J Schneider, National Commander

Coordinating Committee Chairman Norman Rosenshein and I were privileged to attend the NATO briefings in Brussels, Belgium. At NATO, we met with our NATO Defense Attaché Jordan Becker, who discussed current NATO strategies and the ongoing importance of sharing the financial and physical support among the member nations. Our next discussion covered the situations in Afghanistan by analyst Jim Golby and Turkey by analyst Michael Polyak. We found the briefings to be well planned and both analysts to be very forthcoming. Our final briefing at NATO was conducted by Justin Suni, the Public Affairs Officer. The discussion centered around the ongoing issue of the necessity of being politically correct and “keeping everyone happy,” while still getting the message out.

The following day, we were privileged to meet with U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, Ronald J. Gidwitz, at his beautiful residence.

AJEX Parade in London.

He was a delightful host. Coffee and cakes were served followed by a tour of the Embassy. Courtesy calls were made to the following Embassy staff members: Defense Attaché Col. Stephenson, Deputy Counselor for Political and Economic Affairs Matt Habinowski and Cultural Affairs Specialist Brian Dick, who discussed the U.S. participation in Belgium’s WWI and WWII commemorative events.

From Brussels, we moved on to London for one of the most memorable events that I have had the privilege to participate in. The Association of Jewish Ex-Service Men and Women (AJEX) conducted their 84th annual parade and wreath laying ceremony at Whitehall in memory and honor of the 100th anniversary of the WW 1 Armistice.

The Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women (AJEX) was founded in 1929 to serve the needs of Jewish veterans of the First World War (1914-18). AJEX membership includes Ex-National Servicemen who served in Korea, Kenya, Malaysia, Cyprus, Iraq, The Falklands and Afghanistan. Lord Sterling is the current President of the Association.

Veterans from Israel, France, Australia and the United States participated in the parade and wreath laying ceremony. It was my honor to be one of the wreath layers as the American representative. Over 2,000 people attended the ceremony and parade. Watching the WWII vets march with the assistance of canes and wheelchairs was a heartwarming event. No wonder they are known as the Greatest Generation! The Chief Rabbi of England conducted a meaningful memorial service. It was an awe-inspiring event, and I, personally, was very glad it did not rain.

Following the parade, we were treated to high tea and comradery with the members of AJEX and other dignitaries. A keynote address was given, thanking AJEX for their outstanding work and to present good wishes to outgoing President Jacques Weisser for his 24 years of service to AJEX. On Monday, a gala dinner was held for AJEX members and foreign visitors. The dinner itself was spectacular and all kosher, and yes, we all ate too much and enjoyed every bite.

On Monday morning, we were welcomed to a short visit to the U.S. Embassy in London. We met with First Secretary Anna Stinchcomb, from the Political Department and First Secretary Jason Uliner from the Cultural and Economic Department. Both briefed us on current events affecting the U.S. and UK.

The trip was enlightening. I encourage JWV to continue the relationships with NATO and AJEX. It is important for us to continue to be knowledgeable of current events and topics that affect us as Americans, as Jews and as JWV members.  As the National Commander, I was honored to be your representative.

Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018

SGT Alicia Rosenbaum in Tikrit in 2010.

By Sabrina Fine, Communications Intern

While speaking at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, VA, Defense Secretary James Mattis told cadets that the “jury is still out” on women serving in the infantry. His remarks were perceived in different ways.

When a male cadet asked Mattis what his thoughts were on research of women in the military. Mattis said it was a very difficult situation and was also linked to societal gender roles.

“In the event of trouble, you’re sleeping at night in your family home and you’re the dad, mom, whatever. And you hear glass break downstairs, who grabs a baseball bat and gets between the kids’ door and whoever broke in, and who reaches for the phone to call 9-1-1,” said Mattis. “In other words, it goes to the most almost primitive needs of a society to look out for its most vulnerable.”

He stated that his job was to help solve problems. Yet, looking at current numbers studies there just isn’t enough yet to know if it is beneficial.

“This is an issue right now that we have Army, Navy, Marines ― all looking at as we speak. And that is the close-quarters fight being what it is, you know, is it a strength or a weakness to have women in that circumstance,” asked Mattis.

Mattis said that there is not currently enough data and that while he is open to it, he would like to make an educated decision on the matter.

SGT Hilary LaFever in Eastern Diyala in 2006.

Some women did not take those comments positively. Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) is suing the U.S. government because of the limits in women combat roles.

Monica Medina is a board member of SWAN, whose mission is to give military women past, future and present a voice. Medina helped write Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s women integration policy.

“Now the current defense secretary appears to be undercutting that policy (“This is a policy that I inherited,” Mattis said) by casting doubt on women’s ability to fight in combat units,” wrote Medina in the Washington Post.

Panetta’s policy opened all jobs, in all units, including combat ones to women. The policy stated that their mission was to put the most qualified service members in roles in order to maintain mission readiness.

If a woman could pass the requirements, she could fit the role. Currently, the numbers of women serving in those roles are small. According to the Army Times, 18 women have graduated from the elite Army Ranger School. According to the Military Times, two women have graduated from the Marine’s 13-week Infantry Officer Course.

Yet, some data from June 2016- June 2018 indicates that women sustained fewer injuries which conflicts with past studies suggesting combat units with women were less effective and had more injuries.

Mattis explained there was not enough information and statistics for him to make a decision.

“Remember our natural inclination to have this open to all. But we cannot do something that militarily doesn’t make sense,” Mattis told the cadet.

He argued that the media has mistaken his comments. He also mentioned that the female cadets he was speaking to did not take his comments negatively, he explained to reporters at the Pentagon.

“The female cadets took it just the opposite ― that the door was open,” said Mattis to reporters.

Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018

Post 749 sponsoring packages for troops temporarily stationed at Fort Bliss during Hanukkah.

By Sabrina Fine, Communications Intern

SGT April Honig celebrating Hanukkah in Mosul in 2006.

During the monotony of deployment, one thing that troops look forward to is mail. It is a small gesture from someone in a place of homeland comfort that can go a long way both physically and mentally. Receiving a package from a loved one or organization can change a service member’s mood and ultimately raise their morale.

“The taste and smells of home — as well as personal messages of support demonstrates care, honor and respect for our fellow Americans. Connecting in this way to our troops can help meet both their physical and spiritual needs,” wrote Sara Fuerst & Ava Hamburger on

There are many organizations that send packages to Jewish troops such as Aleph, Major Stuart Adam Wolfer Institute (MSAWI), Kosher troops and JWV to name a few.

MSAWI was established so that the legacy of Major Stuart Adam Wolfer’s leadership, commitment to country and community service will live on. Stuart Wolfer was killed in 2008 while serving in Iraq.

“MSAWI was created so that those of us here at home may give of our most precious resource, our time,” said Beverly Wolfer-Nerenberg, MSAWI president and Stuart’s sister. “We always try to involve schools, community groups and faith-based organizations to be an active part of making the care packages. Our troops deserve to know that we care about them and are supporting them.”

Supporting service members morale is a way for people in America to make a positive difference. A servicemember’s morale affects mental, moral, physical condition and ability to overcome obstacles. Poor morale can even lead to loss of victory.

JWV member Gavin Ellman recalled receiving care packages during his service: “They had a huge impact on how we felt,” said Ellman. “Especially the ones that showed people really were thinking about us. The handwritten notes and pictures were so touching!”

It is special to receive care packages during holidays when the weight of being away from family feels heavier. Organizations often send special packages for holiday festivities.

“I served in the Air Force for 32 years,” said Retired Colonel Nelson L Mellitz. “Having been deployed many times during Jewish and Christian holidays, I know that receiving a Jewish holiday card creates a connection to home and the Jewish community. Sometimes being one of the few Jewish military members in a unit overseas and receiving a card or care package from Jewish people or a Jewish organization gave reason to being there.”

It is not uncommon for organizations such as MSAWI to receive letters of thanks. Beverly Wolfer recalled a touching thank you letter that said “Being deployed presents so many challenges: safety concerns, 7-days a week demanding work, and loneliness during Jewish holiday times due to separation from family. I’m so pleased to say the Major Stuart A. Wolfer organization contributed immensely in boosting my spirits by providing care package items during my Afghanistan tour. I wish you could see the look of gratitude upon the soldiers faces when I distributed the wonderful care package items. The nuts and socks you sent were especially welcomed! Not only do the provisions add comfort to austere surroundings, but knowing the folks back home appreciate soldiers’ sacrifices gives us strength and courage to preserve through Operation Enduring Freedom. Thank you for your patriotism and commitment to the troops!”

Sending care packages to those of the Jewish faith is not new. During World War II the three sons of the owners of Katz Deli in Manhattan, New York were serving in the armed forces, according the Katz website. The owners were in the habit of sending food to their boys and encouraged other parents to do the same.

The campaign during World War II of sending food to Jews in service became known as “Send a Salami to your Boy in the Army.” The catch phrase was first heard by Rose Tarowsky, mother of Izzy Tarowsky, who served in the South Pacific as a bomber pilot. Today, Katz Deli supports troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan with special shipping for U.S. military and care packages.

To support the effort of sending care packages, visit the websites of Aleph, KosherTroops, MSAWI, JWV SOS program, or Operation Macabee.

Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018

Post 749 at Temple Mount Sinai

By Scott P. Stevens, Department Commander of TALO

The Maurice Kubby Post 749 of El Paso, Tx had a busy week of Veterans events.  On Thursday, the 8th, Lt. (Ret) Stanley Marcus and I went to the Fort Bliss Veterans Remembrance Ceremony. Mr. Marcus is a WWII Veteran, Liberator of three concentration camps and Honor Flight recipient.

Post 749

On Friday, the Post attended services at Temple Mount Sinai (Reform) Rabbi Ben Zeidman (Patron Member) performed a special blessing for all Veterans. I was given time on the Bima to speak about Veterans and the JWV. As is our tradition of many years, my wife Bonny and I sponsored and prepared a Veterans recognition Oneg.

The next day the Post attended services at Congregation B’Nai Zion (Conservative) Rabbi Scott Rosenberg called JWV members to the Bima for several aliyahs and were hosted to a luncheon after service sponsored by Mr. Mike Batkin (Life Member). I was again given time to speak about Veterans and the JWV.

On Veterans Day, members of the Post and I went to Legacy at Cimarron, a local assisted living facility to meet with senior citizen Veterans. We made presentations of U.S. flag pins (provided by Legacy) to all Veterans and surviving spouses and the Post presented the Veterans with lap blankets made by the spouses of our members. It was a memorable mitzvah to be able to have lunch with many of the veterans and spouses of veterans and swap a few war stories of their service. We thank all who served!

Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018


Robert & Joanne Max, Julie & Robert Teplis, Sandy Shulman, Sam Benator, Myla Lind, Rob Augenstein, Ahava, Avi & George Heart, Robert Wolfson, Stuart Karpel, Steve Edelkind & Steven Weiniger

By George Heart, Post 112

JWV Atlanta Post 112 hosted a special guest speaker during our monthly post meeting November 18th. First, LTC (WA) George H. Heart, Ret., Post 112 CDR, presented introductory remarks about Jewish soldiers serving in the German Armed Forces.  The main speaker was Oberstleutnant (LTC) Alexander Siegfried Sauer, Bundeswehr (German Federal Armed Forces) Military Liaison to Ft. Benning.  OBSLT Sauer, who is a decorated combat veteran from Kosovo and Afghanistan, spoke about the mission of the German Army Liaison to Ft. Benning. Afterwards, he fielded a lively question and answer session that included subjects ranging from the future of NATO, the rise of anti-Semitism, and other topics.

L-R: Sam Benator, Gavin Ellman, R’ Murray Berger, Joanne and Robert Max

The Atlanta Post also far exceeded the goal of supporting veterans and active duty Soldiers throughout Veterans Day.  We spoke at local events about honoring our veterans and the contributions of the Jewish War Veterans Service Organization.  We placed hundreds of American flags on Jewish Veterans graves at Greenwood, Arlington Park and Crest Lawn Cemeteries.

Many volunteers, including veterans and family members, arrived to help us raise funds over the Veterans Day Weekend.  We passed out poppies and small American flags and collected donations to remind the public that JWV is thriving and supporting our veterans and active duty Soldiers of all faiths in Georgia.  Over $5,000 was raised and these funds will go to support our volunteer events at the Atlanta VA Medical Center, Georgia War Veterans Home, Atlanta International Airport USO, Atlanta Veterans Empowerment Organization and others.  We also support our active duty soldiers by sponsoring Shacharit Onegs at Ft. Benning’s Regimental Chapel of the Infantry.

The next Atlanta Post meeting will be Sunday, 09 Dec – the last night of Hanukkah.  This will be our second annual JWV Atlanta Post Hanukkah Military Social.  It will include a display of over 30 military themed menorahs, musical entertainment, a scrumptious Hanukkah buffet, to include sufganyot, latkes, and much more.  For more information, please visit the JWV Atlanta Facebook page.


Mayor Bettencourt presents a Challenge Coin to Lillian

By Barry Lischinsky, Membership Chairman

On Sunday, November 11, 2018, Jewish War Veterans (JWV) Massachusetts (MA) North Shore Post 220 Members participated in the City of Peabody, MA Veterans Day event.  Approximately three hundred (300) Veterans, families and guests attended this year’s City of Peabody Mayor’s Breakfast event thanking all community Veterans for their service.  This year’s event was dedicated to the service of Women in the Military.  The keynote speaker of the event was JWV MA Post 220 Lillian Aronson.  Lillian was born on July 1, 1917 in Salem, MA, and she is the oldest member of JWV.

In 1935, she graduated from Salem, MA High School.  Lillian felt it was important to contribute to the War effort, so contribute she did.  At the age of 26, she volunteered and joined the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC).  Lillian’s military service spans over 20 years – paving the way for Women in the military today.

Lilian, at the young age of 101, remains active today as a volunteer for both the Jewish War Veterans Massachusetts, and the Disabled American Veterans.  On occasions, you may hear Lillian’s voice as she maintains the “Birthday List” of fellow Veterans

Lillian Aronson, the keynote speaker

at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, where she resides today.

Also, recognized during this event was JWV MA Post 220 Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Donna Lehman.  In 2003, LTC Lehman served during Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Chief Nurse of a Forward Surgical Team located in Kuwait.  Attached to the 1st Armored Division with a unit from Walter Reed Hospital, she then was then stationed in Baghdad serving as the Chief Nurse of an Intensive Care Unit.  Extended on Active Duty with her unit she was redeployed to Najaf in April 2004. In mid-July 2004, LTC Lehman returned to Fort Dix, New Jersey.  Many that attended the 2018 Veterans Day event remember LTC Donna Lehman as the 2011 Veterans Day keynote speaker.

In keeping with the theme of City of Peabody’s Veterans Day event of Women in the Military, to quote a past Veterans Affairs article, “Women are now the fastest-growing subgroup of U.S. Veterans. The number of women Veterans is expected to increase dramatically in the next ten years.”   From the generation of Sargent First Class Lillian Aronson to the generation of LTC Donna Lehman, we are reminded of our Hebrew term L’ dor V’dor, meaning “from generation to generation.”   Special thanks to Mayor Bettencourt, Peabody Veterans Agent Steve Patten and the Peabody Veterans Council for recognizing all Veterans and their families.

Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018

Members of Shir Hamalot and Post 786

By Sam Yudin, Post 786 Commander

On November 16th, Shir Ha-Ma’alot in Irvine, CA showed their appreciation for their community’s veterans at their Friday night Shabbat services.  They held a special service called, “Shabbat Service: Honor Those Who Protect Us.”  It was a small event that had a major impact for those service members and veterans in attendance.

Mike Heineman was also there to give a speech about Jewish experiences in the Air Force.  He served as an instructor pilot in the Euro NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program, an F-15E combat pilot, and, after graduating from the US Air Force Test Pilot School in 2014, an F-15 and A-29 test pilot. Mike completed his service in July 2017, and he now works as an engineer at SpaceX.

After Mike’s speech, Veterans in the audience were called on the bimah one by one to be recognized by the entire congregation.  The event was made more special when we were able to Facetime with Major (MAJ) Howard Medina, who is currently deployed to Afghanistan.  MAJ Medina Major Medina’s family along with the entire congregation was able to view him on a large screen

Maj. Medina poses for a photo

as they conversed.

Major Medina is a California National Guard Soldier assigned to the 40th Infantry Division, and he is a new member of JWV Tibor Rubin Post #786.   Major Medina is an intelligence officer in the California National Guard assigned to 40th Infantry Division G2 based at Joint Forces Training Base Los Alamitos, CA.  He has been deployed to Kosovo, Guantanamo Bay, and now Afghanistan.  On those deployments he has acted as a lay leader conducting Jewish services.  He grew up in Torrance and lives in Irvine.  His wife Debbie and three boys Sam (10), Joseph (6) and Adam (6) miss him and can’t wait for him to return.

The Medinas have been members of Shir Ha-Ma’a lot for 10 years. Rabbi Steinberg and Rabbi DePaulo have been in contact with MAJ Media through email checking up with him and the Rabbi’s assistant had called Debbie and asked if we can make it possible to FaceTime with him on that night.

Events like the Shir Hamalot Shabbat Service show the Jewish community that Jewish soldiers are still serving on the front lines in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.  Here in Orange County, we are working to make Orange County a military-friendly community for our Jewish veterans and service members.

Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018


Members of Post 156 at the Hampton Roads Veterans Day parade.

By Adam Goldberg, Post 158 Commander

Jewish War Veterans (JWV) Post 158 of Southeastern Virginia had the honor of co-sponsoring the Hampton Roads Veterans Day parade and ceremony with the Hampton Roads Council of Veterans Organizations (HRCVO) in Virginia Beach, Nov. 12. This year’s festivities being significant due to the 100th year anniversary of the end of World War I which was the origins of Veterans Day previously known as Armistice Day.

The parades grand marshal was retired Chief Petty Officer Robert Freitag, past president of HRCVO and the co-marshal was Michael Berman, esq., past National Commander of JWV.

During the ceremony invocation Rabbi Sender Haber, lead rabbi of B’nai Israel Congregation of Norfolk, VA, and JWV Post 158 Chaplain recounted a message from Mrs. Kitty Saks, a member of B’nai Israel and holocaust survivor.

“She called me after the terrible shooting in Pittsburgh last week and she said I remember 80 years ago standing at a window on November 9th 1938 during Kristallnacht,” said Rabbi Haber. “Glass was shattering in Jewish homes, Jewish door fronts. We waited for my father to come home and nobody cared, nobody defended us, nobody took care of us. Here I am 80 years later in the United States of America and a synagogue is attacked and I don’t stop getting letters, messages, emails and calls from neighbors and friends in America.”

The parade was followed by a ceremony that included a wreath-laying presentation, offered by various veteran service organizations, and a ceremonious gun salute by the Virginia Beach Police Department in honor of Veterans Day.

“We need to thank god every day that we live in the United States of America,” said Rabbi Haber. “We need to thank god for our neighbors, for our government and most of all for our veterans who give their lives not only to protect us but to protect our freedom to worship to believe and take care of one another.”

Members of Post 156 at the Hampton Roads Veterans Day parade.

Michael Berman, esq., was the guest speaker during the luncheon and talked about the alarming suicide rate of veterans.

“We are losing 20 veterans a day. You who serve, I ask a small favor,” said Berman. “If you know someone who is approaching that, you can tell. They may divest themselves of their possessions, they may hear ghosts at night, they may wake up with the sweats, they may say I can’t take it anymore there is too much in my mind I have to get out of here somehow. So if you know someone in that area, buddy up to them. You can’t do it alone. They need professional help and we are not professional help but we are their friends and sometimes their confidant… talk to them, let them know you care.”

This year’s Veterans Day proclamation also included special recognition of the Jewish War Veterans honor, integrity and supremacy to the United States.

The JWV is the voice of the Jewish service member and friend to all veterans. Formed in New York in 1896 after the Spanish American War, the Jewish veteran group was known as the Hebrew Union Veterans Association. The union fought anti-Semitism in the Armed Forces and the general public. Seeking to prove that Jews do proudly serve and fight in the US Armed Forces, the union evolved with each war, eventually taking the name we know today – JWV. With over 120 years of service, JWV is the oldest, continuously operating Veteran Service

Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018



Sam Yudin, Greg Lee and other 786 members pose for a photo.

By Sam Yudin, Post 786 Commander

Tibor Rubin Post #786 has ensured Jewish American Medal of Honor Recipient display cases see the light of day for the first time in over 10 years in an exhibition at the Merage JCC in Orange County, CA.

The 40th Infantry Division of the California National Guard has been the home of 16 display cases highlighting 17 Jewish American Medal of Honor recipients.  The display cases have sat in a classroom in the back of a building on Joint Forces Training Base Los Alamitos, CA.  The cases were built by JWV member Alvin Selinck, of blessed memory, and donated to the California Military Department in 2004.  They were displayed at the state’s military museum in Sacramento until it closed its doors.  After that, they made their way to Los Alamitos by way of San Diego.

Tibor Rubin Post #786 wanted these important pieces of Jewish American military history to be seen by the widest audience possible. The obvious choice was front and center at the Merage JCC in Orange County which has 50,000 members a month pass through the aptly named main street which house(s/d) (-d depending on publication date) the Jewish American Medal of Honor Recipient Exhibit from October 12- November 30th.

From the beginning the Merage JCC has been a very supportive partner to JWV Tibor Rubin Post #786. The exhibit when first discussed was a no brainer for the president and CEO, Dan Bernstein, and the Chair of the Board, Irv Chase.  “From the founding of the United States, Jews have defended the liberties that all Americans enjoy,” says Irv Chase.  On the meaning of this exhibit to the JCC he continues, “It is important for American Jews to know what sacrifices their fellow Jews have made to protect the liberties they enjoy.”

On November 8th, a reception was held in honor of the exhibit and Jewish veterans in the community.  The purpose of the event was to celebrate Jewish American pride in service and recognize the veterans in the community.  The event which featured the California State Military Reserve Military Heritage Command’s color guard and over a dozen military members in uniform was attended by approximately 100 people.  The event was called one of the most important events to happen at the JCC and very

The exhibit

moving by many others.

A very important feature of this exhibit is only possible due to the partnership with the California State Military Reserve Military Heritage Command which has enhanced the exhibit with many period artifacts and uniforms from the Civil War to the Vietnam War. They also have been providing tours and activities for children and adult groups at the exhibit.  The children have enjoyed writing letters to the Medal of Honor recipients and trying on period uniforms.  Brigadier General Jay Coggan, Commander of the California State Military Reserve was present for the event and announced that this exhibit is the very start of his command getting these important military artifacts in the eyes of the public.

Brigadier General Coggan’s comments indicate there is now a commitment that the Jewish American Medal of Honor Recipient display cases will continued to be displayed in the community. Discussions are already ongoing to bring this exhibit back next year at another local venue such as the Alpert Jewish Community Center Long Beach.

This event has also brought Jewish veterans and the Jewish community closer together. The Merage JCC has embraced its community’s veterans by definitively displaying they are proud of and value the veterans in their community making them a very veteran friendly community.  JWV Tibor Rubin Post #786 looks forward to many years of great relations with the Merage JCC.

Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018

Temple Beth Torah Sha’aray Tzedek

Alan Paley is an active member of the synagogue and veteran. Below are his remarks to the audience.

Good Shabbos,

Tomorrow, the nation will pause for a few minutes to both honor, and pay tribute to, the many men and women who served in the military, and then returned home.

Most cities and towns hold symbolic celebrations for their veterans at the 11th hour of the 11th day, of the 11th month. For this was the time in 1918 that the armistice was signed with Germany, ending World War 1, permitting tired and homesick soldiers to return home.

But, when we speak about Veterans, we often group them together in one big giant pot.

They are all the same.  Each one wore the uniform of the United States Military and basically did what they were told.

No more, no less.

But, Veterans are individuals as well. Each had a unique job that they performed. Each served in one of the five branches of the armed services. And, each served at a different time.

Starting with the American Revolution, and making our way through the Civil War, two deadly world wars, The Korean and Vietnam Wars.

And most recently, the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan, fought as part of the U.S. War on Terrorism.

Yet, every veteran has a story all their own.

So, this morning, as we gather here in the comfortable sanctuary of our synagogue, I want to tell you about 3 individual Veterans – each unique in their military service and history. Each, a Veteran of the war in Vietnam.

Our first Veteran enlisted in the United States Navy in 1966, at a time when the draft was at its highest level.  Young men and women who enlisted during this time frame were often looked upon a being somewhat “strange” Why are you enlisting?  There is a war going on!!

You must be nuts to willingly join the military, were the cries often heard from family and friends.  Yet, this individual did just that.  He enlisted.

Following basic training at Great Lakes Illinois, this Veteran was then selected to attend Basic Electronic and Electricity Training.  Upon successful completion of those studies, he was sent to Bainbridge, Maryland, to attend additional training to become a Radioman.  As a certified Radioman, he was then assigned to the USS Joseph P Kennedy in 1967.  His duties as a Radioman were the processing and execution of all phases of incoming and outgoing electronically generated shipboard communication.

He also helped to train lower ranking personnel in the same field.  He remained on that ship until 1970.  Upon discharge from active duty, he joined the Naval Reserve, where he actively served for another 6 years.  While in the reserves, he took advantage of the GI Bill and enrolled in the City University of New York, he graduated at the top of his class. He then accepted a job as a Secondary Science Teacher. He remained in that position for the next 29 years, and retired in 2005 as Teacher, and Chairman of the Science Department.  He is usually here every Shabbat, but is currently resting at home following a short hospital stay.

He is an involved member of our synagogue, and an active member of our Men’s Club.This Veteran is Aubrey Harley.

Our next Veteran enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve in 1968, and having already graduated from college and medical school, entered with the rank of Lieutenant. He was assigned as the Battalion Surgeon at Port Hueneme in California.  However, a month later, his unit was deployed to South Vietnam, were he also served as the Battalion Surgeon.

While in Vietnam, his job was to stabilize the wounded, and prepare them to be med-evaced to area field hospitals. He saw firsthand the effects of war, as he cared for and provided medical attention to those wounded servicemen who were brought back to his Battalion for treatment. Young men, whose life at times hung by a very thin thread. Often, he stood between life and death for these wounded soldiers.

He is most proud of the fact that he initiated a program of training 3 local residents in basic health care, so they could serve as village care providers, where there was no previous health care available.

He returned to the United States in 1969 and served as the Medical Officer at the San Diego Naval Hospital.  He separated from active duty in 1970 but continued to serve in the Naval Reserve until January of 1975.  During this time, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

He continued to practice medicine all through his civilian career and just recently retired.  This Veteran, who is in the synagogue this morning, also serves as the President of our Men’s Club.

Alan Paley

This Veteran is Dr. Alan Miller.

Our third Veteran has a somewhat different story to tell.

Joining Army ROTC when he was in college, he knew that upon graduation he would have to enter the military.  As a college graduate, he would enter active duty as an officer, rather than an enlisted man, so his chances of seeing action in Southeast Asia were slightly reduced. Or so he thought…..  Following training in Virginia, he received orders to go to Germany.

Along with his wife, he set off to Manheim for his first overseas assignment, as a Brigade Personnel Officer.

Concurrent to his assignment in Germany, his younger brother, who had enlisted in the Air Force, was also stationed in Germany.  His brother however, was not an officer, but was an airman specializing in the weapons system of the latest United States Air Force fighter jet, the Phantom F-4.

The largest, fastest fighter jet in the Air Force inventory, and the leading aircraft in the war in Vietnam.

Knowing this, and realizing that the chances of his brother getting orders for Southeast Asia far outweighed his, he decided to speak with his commanding officer and subsequently, requested a transfer to Vietnam.

After only 9 months of serving in Germany, he received orders to report to Long Binh Vietnam, for a 12-month tour of duty.

He served as a Staff Supply Officer, flying from location to location via helicopter, and insured that the men and women stationed at those posts, outposts and bases were provided with all the special services supplies they could get.

Recreational items, so the troops could enjoy whatever free time they had, before going back into battle.

His helicopter was shot at, his barracks was mortared, and several army buddies were killed during one of those mortar attacks.

He returned home a year later, to his wife and new baby daughter.  Enrolling in Law School, he later practiced law, and now serves as a Superior Court Judge in New Jersey.

This Veteran, although not a member of our synagogue is my brother, and his decision to volunteer for service in a combat zone, enabled me to serve my remaining years of military service in Germany, without the threat of receiving orders for Vietnam.

I never knew what he had done until 2016, some 49 years later.

One thing each of these Veterans have in common is the deeply embedded feeling of patriotism.  Although members of the military come from different walks of life, we all learned to get along and work with one another.  We watched each other’s back and knew that our comrades in arms would be watching our back, too. This is the way you survive.

In this week’s Torah portion, we read the shocking story of Jacob stealing Esau’s blessing, an action that created a rivalry so bitter, it is said to still be manifesting itself today. The Torah is full of stories of brother turning against brother. Cain kills Abel, Moses is compelled by God to turn against his brother – Pharaoh, Joseph’s brothers almost kill him over their jealousy of the treatment their father Jacob gives to Joseph – culminating with Jacob giving Joseph a coat of many colors.

The collection of Jewish texts does contain a few positive stories of one brother helping another. Most famously, although the source of the story has never been proven, is the tale of King Solomon’s quest to find a suitable location to build the First Temple.

One of God’s angels takes Solomon in one of his dreams to a field owned by two brothers.

One of the brothers is a bachelor; the other is married and has children. At the end of the harvest season, each brother is concerned for the other, and under the cover of night each adds grain to the other’s pile. The married brother was concerned because he reasoned that the bachelor had no children to support him in his old age. The bachelor was concerned because he reasoned that with so many children his brother needed more grain. The brothers met in the middle of the field and embraced.

This field, a manifestation of brotherly love, King Solomon reasoned was the best site for the Temple.

Brotherly love, commitment, and honor. These are the virtues of a Veteran.

Each of the Veterans mentioned today served their country with honor, and then returned to civilian life. Each one built a successful career.

They rarely speak about their military service on their own and are often shy about discussing it, when asked by outsiders.  But, all of them have earned the title of Veteran.

We are here today, able to live in this great country and enjoy the religious freedom that we have, because these men answered their call to duty, and served in the military.

And yes, a great many women answered that call too.

So, if you are a veteran, please stand up and be recognized.

Thank you all for your service.

May God bless those men and women both here today and all over the country that carry the title of Veteran. And, may God bless the United States of America.

Shabbat Shalom

Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018