By Larry Jasper, National Editor and Cara Rinkoff, Managing Editor

At JWV’s National Convention in New Orleans last month, the Resolutions Committee approved 12 resolutions which will inform our organization’s legislative priorities moving forward. One of the resolutions called on Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to reinstate the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services. Since he did that on August 14th, we have removed that from our resolutions, leaving just 11 you should talk to your members of Congress about.

The Department of Defense has ordered a review of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) concerning extremist activities. JWV supports both the review and possible amendments to the UCMJ as appropriate to address extremism in the military.

JWV wants to immediately stop the deportation of veterans and servicemembers who committed or were found guilty of drug offenses that numerous jurisdictions have already decriminalized. Also, veterans who committed these acts due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or other issues related to their military service should be pardoned and given a path to citizenship. Immigration judges should also be required to consider an individual’s honorable military service when they are deciding whether to issue a deportation order.

Congress should immediately pass the Veterans Burn Pits Exposure Recognition Act (S. 437 and H.R. 2436). This would require the VA to give benefits to all veterans who were in locations where they may have been exposed to toxic substances unless the department can prove they were not. The burden of proof would be on the Department of Veterans Affairs instead of the veteran.

JWV is asking the Secretary of Defense to pay members of the reserve component of an armed force a special bonus or incentive pay in the same monthly amount as what is paid to a member in the regular component of the armed forces performing comparable work requiring comparable skills. Congress should pass the National Guard and Reserve Incentive Pay Parity Act (S.1859 and H.R. 3626).

Our organization wants to make sure non-veteran members of the National Guard and National Reserve have the option of being interred in VA cemeteries without cost and to extend their families the same rights and privileges extended to families of other veterans.

JWV is calling on both the House and Senate to pass the Brandon Act (S. 2088 and H.R. 3942). The goal of the Brandon Act is to expand the current law regulating how service members are referred for mental health evaluations to make sure service members can self-report mental health issues in a confidential manner. This would help service members avoid the stigma associated with seeking mental health services.

The Department of Veterans Affairs should be required to provide reproductive counseling to female veterans to address issues arising from difficulty conceiving and/or the loss of a pregnancy due to their service in uniform.

Another resolution indicates that we support efforts by the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation to have Congress allow the creation of such a memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Congress should therefore pass the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Location Act (S. 535 and H.R. 1115).

Congress should resist any changes to the formula which calculates Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA) which could mean that over time retired pay for former military service members would not keep pace with rising prices, causing quality-of-life issues for veterans.

JWV supports the passage of the ‘Six Triple Eight’ Congressional Gold Medal Act (S.321 and H.R. 1012). The African American women who served in the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion in Europe during World War II deserve to receive the Congressional Gold Medal for their work setting up a system to handle mail for deceased servicemembers and also clearing a three-year backlog of mail.

Our organization also calls for the removal of cannabis from the list of controlled substances in the case of medical usage.

For assistance with writing letters to your members of Congress about any of these issues, or about how to talk with them in person, you can contact Membership Director Harrison Heller at or Programs and Public Relations Director Cara Rinkoff at

The committee also approved a resolution opposing all forms of extremist behavior within our organization’s membership. It states that JWV reaffirms that “our members must not actively advocate supremacist, extremist, antisemitic, or criminal gang doctrine, ideology, or causes, including those that advance, encourage, or advocate illegal discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, religion, ethnicity, or national origin or those that advance, encourage, or advocate the use of force, violence, or criminal activity or otherwise advance efforts to deprive individuals of their civil rights.”

You can find details on all of these resolutions at

Volume 75. Number 3. 2021

By Cara Rinkoff, Managing Editor
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Deputy Secretary Donald Remy delivered the keynote address during the opening ceremony of JWV’s 126th Annual National Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana. Just one week before the convention, the VA decided it would not allow Remy or any other department official to travel because of COVID-19 concerns. Remy still wanted to deliver the keynote speech, so he recorded it for members to see at convention.

Remy discussed the priorities that the Biden administration set for the VA. He said the department wants to “deliver more care, more benefits, and more services to more veterans and future veterans than ever before with advocacy, access, outcomes, and excellence as our guiding principles.”
When it comes to access, Remy told JWV that veterans need to have the opportunity to access VA benefits whether it is at a VA facility or at another location in their community. However, he stressed that the current administration will not privatize the VA. “Privatizing the VA is not the answer,” Remy said. “And that’s not going to happen on our watch.” He said the ultimate goal is to make sure that VA’s direct care system is sustainable for future generations of veterans.

When it comes to treatment in VA facilities, all veterans should feel “safe, free of harassment, and free of discrimination,” Remy said. He added that “we owe world-class healthcare benefits and services to all veterans, including women, veterans of color, survivors of military sexual trauma, and LGBTQ+ veterans.”

Remy also talked about the importance of mental health and said one of the most urgent priorities is preventing veteran suicide. He hopes Congress will approve a budget request for more than half a billion dollars for outreach programs that address suicide risk. He said a new program is being developed to help mentally ill veterans in rural areas. The goal is to create a training program that will attract “top-shelf clinicians to those communities, to keep them in rural areas, and to care for the vets living in those areas.”
Another priority for Remy is making sure all veterans have a home. He said the Biden administration will do whatever it takes to keep veterans in their homes through various means, including the emergency rental assistance program and the extension of the foreclosure and eviction moratorium in place due to the coronavirus.

Remy appeared to understand that some veterans are concerned about the man chosen to lead the VA. He said that while Secretary Denis McDonough may not be a veteran or a doctor, he is a leader and a fighter, and someone who will do the best job possible for all veterans.

The Deputy Secretary also discussed his recent visit to the National Museum of American Jewish Military History. Remy spent 45 minutes at JWV headquarters and the NMAJMH on August 5, meeting with National Executive Director Herb Rosenbleeth, and getting a tour of the museum from Mike Rugel.

Remy’s entire speech from the convention’s opening ceremony is available on the Jewish War Veterans YouTube channel.

Volume 75. Number 3. 2021

By Jeffrey Blonder
September is National Suicide Prevention Month. During the JWV Annual National Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana last month, members had the opportunity to hear from Dr. Daniel DeBrule, a clinical psychologist, professor, and educator with expertise in anxiety and depression with a concentration in suicide prevention in the veteran community. DeBrule treats many patients in VA clinics.

DeBrule said suicide is unique among the other top ten causes of death in the United States. “We could argue that while there’s a lot of different preventative measures we could take to offset things like cardiovascular disease and diabetes, suicide remains one of the most heavily preventable causes of death in the United States.” He said in the past few years, the suicide rate nationally has decreased – even during the pandemic.

The rate of suicide among both the civilian population and veterans varies based on their location. Those living in the western mountain area of the U.S. are twice as likely to commit suicide as individuals in the Northeast. DeBrule also said men are three and a half times more likely to commit suicide than omen. The method of suicide is also different between men and women. While men are more likely to commit suicide with a firearm, women tend to use firearms, suffocation, or poison – with no apparent preference. DeBrule advised that if there is a loved one of yours that is contemplating suicide it is important that the means to commit suicide be removed. He said the VA now hands out gun locks. “Any veteran who’s going to the VA for care can get gun locks from the VA, but we also have conversations about removing ammunition, giving the firearms to someone else.” DeBrule said locking up or removing guns from the home isn’t about taking away anyone’s second amendment right, it’s about “making sure that if the person is in crisis, or in a window of crisis that we enable them to not have access to those means, to keep them safe, to keep them sound.”
DeBrule also talked about the SAVE program which anyone can use to help a friend or family member in crisis. “These are the tips for SAVE – recognizing the warning signs and risk factors, asking the question, validating their experience, and expediting and encouraging treatment,” DeBrule said. You can find more information about this program at

If you are interested in receiving a copy of the Power Point used in DeBrule’s presentation, please contact Programs and Public Relations Director Cara Rinkoff at You can also watch the presentation on the Jewish War Veterans YouTube channel.

If you or someone you love is in crisis, please call the Veteran Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.

Volume 75. Number 3. 2021

By Larry Jasper, National Editor
Meet Major Isaac Adam Greenberg of the Department of Florida. Greenberg grew up in Tucson, Arizona, attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and served ten years of active duty. During that time, he served two tours in Afghanistan. Greenberg is currently a member of the U.S. Army Reserve.

In between all that is a lot more. Greenberg is the very definition of a mensch. Greenberg attended the Tucson Hebrew Academy before going to High School and said that school is where he made life-long friends and found a love for Judaism. “I am very appreciative of my parents for giving me the opportunity to attend a school that provided me with a Judaic education that influenced my personal growth,” Greenberg said.
Greenberg also recalls his time at Sahuaro High School fondly. He served as the Senior Class Vice President and played linebacker for the Cougars. He led the state in tackles in 2000 and committed to play collegiate football in California. A trip to Washington, D.C. changed that path, and Senator John McCain nominated him to attend West Point.

Greenberg arrived at West Point just two months before September 11, 2001 to begin his military career at USMA. Everything changed for him at the Academy on that day 20 years ago. The terrorist attacks shocked the United States and put the military academy on guard. Greenberg said that at the time there were rumors about West Point as a potential target for both strategic and symbolic reasons, potentially targeting 4,000 future Army officers in the Cadet Mess Hall during lunch. The evening of September 11, the Academy had a vigil, which included the entire Corps of Cadets lined up in darkness as the bugle played taps for the fallen. Greenberg said you could hear cadets crying and that moment solidified Greenberg’s feeling that he wanted to serve our country and lead soldiers.

After that day, the plebes were not hazed by the upper classmen, but instead were treated as humans – future officers who will eventually go to war together. The upper classmen were more concerned about what lay ahead and focused on ensuring the freshman class was prepared for what was to come – war. They focused on tactics, leadership, and other combat related topics.

One highlight of Greenberg’s time on campus involved joining the choir. The group would leave campus to visit synagogues and Hillel houses. In 2005, they performed at the White House during Hanukkah.

Greenberg received his commission as a Military Intelligence Officer in 2005. He received his commission from Rabbi Major Carlos Huerta, one of his mentors at the academy. Huerta served 22 years and was instrumental in instilling a sense of Jewish identity and advocating Tikkun Olam. Huerta served as the Jewish chaplain at West Point for nine years and in 2003 volunteered to go to Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division. Huerta is an example of what it means to be a selfless servant and inspired Greenberg and the other Jewish cadets preparing to go to war.

From left: Greenberg, Michael Fichman, Roger Bahrman, and Timm Russ.

Greenberg deployed to Afghanistan in 2006 with the 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Drum, New York. He served as the Battalion Intelligence Collection Coordinator supporting a light infantry unit in the mountains of Afghanistan which engaged in daily firefights. A few days into his first deployment, Greenberg realized providing intelligence and strategic battlefield resources to the frontline of an armed conflict had a huge impact. “I learned early in life, and especially in Afghanistan, that life is full of obstacles and there are many ways to approach any situation. Obstacles are opportunities to learn, grow, and teach,” Greenberg said. In 2009, Greenberg deployed to Afghanistan a second time, serving as the Head of Intelligence for his battalion. He played an integral role in counter rocket attacks, combat patrols, and base security.

Greenberg eventually left Fort Drum and moved to Fort McPherson, Georgia. That’s where he met his wife, Felicia. They have two sons, Noah who is six and Asher who is four. In Georgia Greenberg served as an Intelligence Exercise Planner with the U.S. Army Central Command, supporting missions in Jordan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. In 2012 Greenberg took command of the 715th Military Intelligence Battalion at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. He served his final year of active duty with the 25th Infantry Division.

Greenberg says his sister Anna died from a rare form of cancer in 2013, but she taught him a lot about keeping a positive attitude. “My sister Anna taught me a lot about life during her cancer journey – about living life with a positive attitude. Anna also taught me to be kind to all, live for today, and don’t give up… I’ve seen a lot through war and my sister’s battle with cancer that has influenced me to live life with a smile and laugh,” he said.
In August, Greenberg worked behind the scenes trying to help Afghan translators and their families get out of the country safely. He provided the names of dozens of linguists and their family members to the staff of Congressman Bill Keating. As the threat level increased, Greenberg worked with the Congressman’s staff to get letters to those who helped U.S. forces. Some were able to leave the country successfully. Greenberg said he felt it is a Jewish responsibility to help the Afghan people – similar to how some chose to help Jews living under the Nazis in Germany.

On August 23, Greenberg spoke to one of his linguists and gave him specific guidance on how to get out of the country. Unfortunately, that same day a suicide bomb exploded at the gate to the airport. That family now needs to find another way to get out Afghanistan. Greenberg said the past few weeks has been an emotional rollercoaster.

Recently Greenberg participated in a discussion, “Saving Lives: A Jewish Voice in the Afghan Refugee Crisis,” with Rabbi Erez Sherman from Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. The conversation included Greenberg’s primary interpreter from 2009. Abdulhai Shirzad fled Afghanistan in 2015 with wife and child and now lives in Germany.

Shirzad is still trying to get himself and his family to the United States.

Greenberg currently works for Lockheed Martin and lives in Orlando, Florida, where he is trying to start a new JWV post.

Volume 75. Number 3. 2021

By Nelson L Mellitz, National Vice Commander
I planned to write my first article as your National Vice Commander about the ever-increasing anti-Semitism in the U.S. However, recent events in Afghanistan have grabbed the attention of the world, as well as the Jewish military and veteran’s community, so I changed the subject of my article.
This month, we think back to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City, at the Pentagon, and Flight 93 where passengers revolted against the terrorists who intended to crash the plane into the White House or Capitol in Washington, D.C. The plane crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing all 44 people on board.

Where were you on September 11, 2001 when you heard about the terrorist attacks on the United States? I was a few blocks away from the World Trade Center buildings in downtown New York City.

Did you know anyone on those planes or killed during the attacks? Debbie and I had Major LeRoy Homer, Jr., the First Officer of United Airlines Flight 93, over our house for dinner a few weeks before the attacks. LeRoy was an Air Force Academy graduate and my U.S. Air Force Academy Liaison Officer trainee. I also knew three others who worked in the World Trade Towers that took the same 5:45 a.m. bus I did to New York City, who did not survive the attacks.

The events 20 years ago shocked Americans and changed the course of our lives as well as the country’s military positioning and the government’s world view. In December 2001, the U.S. became entangled in a 20-year long war in Afghanistan to depose the Taliban-led government which harbored the terrorist groups that attacked us on 9/11. On May 2, 2011, Seal Team 6 killed Osama bin Laden, the planner of the 9/11 attacks, who was hiding in Pakistan.

President Obama declared the end of our combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014, however thousands of U.S. and allied uniform members and U.S. civilian advisors and contractors remained in Afghanistan to train and support Afghan troops. According to the Defense Department, more than 2.7 million U.S. service members served in the Afghanistan and Iraq war zones since 2001.
Fast Forward – The U.S. military leaves no one behind

The U.S. military services made a sacred commitment to leave no one behind on the battlefield. This ethos is even embedded in the military service creeds. Since World War I this ethos has applied to not only uniformed members but to U.S. citizens, allies, and others in danger.
It’s been 20 years since September 11 and President Biden declared that all U.S. troops would be out of Afghanistan by August 31, 2021. We have all seen on the news tens of thousands of people (Americans, Afghans, and others) rushing to the Hamid Karzai Airport to get on U.S. military planes that will carry them to freedom. We have to ask ourselves how many U.S. citizens, green card holders, Afghans that worked the U.S., and women and girls in danger were left behind. Could we have gotten everybody out of Afghanistan – leaving no one behind? What should we have left behind – military equipment, supplies, food, shelter, etc.?

The fog of war has raised its ugly head in what we currently hear from politicians and news outlets. There is often different and sometimes conflicting stories of what happened. A bipartisan congressional investigation is needed to determine what went right and wrong in the past 20 years and in the Afghanistan withdrawal.

G-d bless the United States of America and the families of those Killed in Action and Wounded in Action in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Volume 75. Number 3. 2021

By Ben Kane, Programs Assistant
At the 2021 JWV National Convention’s first business session, attendees heard from Marina Jackman, the President and CEO of the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation. The goal of the foundation is to “honor the service and sacrifice of all who served in the Global War on Terrorism.” One of the ways this mission will be carried out is through the construction of the Global War on Terrorism memorial. Jackman referred to the proposed memorial as a “functional piece of art adorning the National Mall,” and said, “the memorial will be the first for men and women who have died fighting, continue to fight, and who are just joining the fight against terrorism.” The memorial will be a testament to the strength of all who fought and continue to fight in the war that has presently lasted for decades. The memorial will be a permanent “reminder of collective strength and willingness to stand in the face of terrorism and the threats to our very way of life, and a place of healing, reflection, empowerment, unity, and knowledge.”

Jackman pointed out that generational responsibility is a large component of Jewish tradition, and the memorial should be appreciated and approved by the Jewish military community, as it is intended to aid with educating future generations about the struggles and sacrifices of the presently ongoing international conflict. Congressman Mike Gallagher, a public supporter of the memorial, was quoted by Jackman as saying, “if we’re going to continue passing the torch of democracy from one generation to the next, then we need to build this memorial so that future generations never forget their duty to do the same.”

It’s rare for monuments to conflicts to be constructed around the same time as the conflict itself. Jackson lamented this, saying most monuments are built “too late to have the kind of impact that they could have, and certainly far too late for most of those who fought to share those experiences with their families.” But this memorial, due to it being pursued speedily, would avoid the educational hinderances that come with building monuments too late.

While plans are currently in motion, construction of any kind in D.C. takes a long time. The 24-step process is arduous, and the memorial is, at the time of writing, on steps 9 through 12 which are the site selection steps. Congress closed the desired spot for the memorial in 2003. The foundation is now asking Congress to pass legislation to make an exception for this memorial. JWV has signed on to letters supporting this effort. Because of the difficulties that come with construction of this kind, the project is not expected to be completed for another four or five years. The Global War on Terrorism Foundation’s website  and social media pages are excellent resources to use to be kept up to date on the development of the memorial, or to donate to the foundation.

Volume 75. Number 3. 2021

By Mel Eichelbaum
In the article, “Anti-Semitism Did Not End with the Second World War,” published in the November of 2020 issue of The Jewish Veteran, National Vice Commander Nelson Mellitz wrote of his concerns about the increased tide of antisemitism. He cited the American Jewish Committee (AJC) “State of Antisemitism in America” report, which indicated 88% of American Jews felt that anti-Semitism remained a significant problem; whereas there existed a disturbing lack of awareness among the general public about the severity of antisemitism, with 21% stating that they had never heard of the term, nor did they know what it meant. Mellitz continued by stating that anti-Semitism is a present and growing threat. He urged JWV members to take an active role in educating the public about it, to identify incidents of it when it happens, and to take positive steps to stop it.

Clearly, I was aware of the continued existence of this sickening hatred bubbling beneath the surface in Texas, but I honestly thought that things had improved since the early 1950s when my family and I first moved to the Lone Star State. But in 2015 and 2016 it seemed like things began to change. That was the last year when my wife and I taught Religious School at Temple Beth-El. During our lesson covering Yom HaShoah, I asked how many of the students had experienced some form of anti-Semitism. I was surprised when over two-thirds of the class raised their hands. These were second graders who went to good schools, and yet at this young age a significant number had faced this evil experience.

I reached out to my contacts at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). In the Spring of 2015, my wife and I had taken a civil rights trip through the South. This was the 50th anniversary of the march led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from Selma to Montgomery. While in Montgomery, we visited the SPLC Civil Rights Museum and we were treated to a tour of their office headquarters. There we met our Docent, Esther Labovitz, were introduced to Joseph Levin, Jr., Co-Founder of the SPLC, and spoke with many of its dedicated workers. While I knew the organization was involved in fighting hatred and pursuing equal justice, I was pleased to learn that they had a whole section dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism.

Between 2015 and 2020, SPLC reported an exponential increase of incidents inspired by hate groups. These not only included the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazis, but also a whole host of White Nationalist and White Supremacist groups having a distinct anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and of course, an anti-Semitic agenda. Texas ranked third in the nation, showing a marked increase in the growth of hate incidents, right behind the states of California and Florida. Add in potent relative newcomers, such as the Boogaloo Bois, Oath Keepers, and Proud Boys, and this resulting mixture of hate groups had become more emboldened and energetic in acting out their hatred. The Anti-Defamation League in their 2020 report confirmed these findings, indicating that the Jewish Community experienced the highest number of anti-Semitic incidents since tracking began back in 1979. The Director of the FBI has characterized these hate groups as a “national threat priority,” and that not only has this become a threat to American democracy, but also, the danger is on-going and unrelenting.

I suppose his words came to fruition, when I along with many others witnessed the storming, invasion, and ransacking of our Capitol by a riotous mob in an attempt to delay or stop the peaceful transition of power as a result of the election. Five people died, 140 were injured, and damages were estimated at $1.5 million. The mob contained many members from a variety of these hate groups, some of whom came from Texas.

But before this crescendo event, the warning signs were there. Between 2016 and 2020 in San Antonio, Texas, two synagogues, Agudas Achim and Rodfei Shalom were vandalized, Jewish graves at the Ft. Sam Houston cemetery were desecrated, and Neo-Nazi hate and recruitment propaganda was widely distributed in three suburban neighborhoods.

This increase in anti-Semitism was not limited to San Antonio. In August of 2018, at a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, a group carrying torches and weapons marched in front of a synagogue shouting, “Jews will not replace us.” On October 27, 2018, a white supremacist walked into the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania carried out a mass shooting which left 11 dead and others injured. On August 3, 2019, a white supremacist entered a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 23 Mexican-Americans and injuring many others.

He specifically targeted Mexican-Americans because of a belief and fear that immigration was destroying the White Race and culture. What did this event have to do with anti-Semitism? Investigation into his internet communications indicated a common white supremacist radicalization, and it was clear that he was motivated by the Christchurch shooter, who had targeted and slaughtered Muslims. All these killers had been indoctrinated with the same poisonous white supremacist, anti-immigrant insidious mythology, and they all had an intense hatred toward non-whites and non-Christians, be they Muslims or Jews. As pointed out by Mellitz in his article, the connection is that hate and anti-Semitism harms not just the Jewish people but all people everywhere.

What can we do to fight this evil? First, we can support the groups actively involved in fighting anti-Semitism, such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Anti-Defamation League. Second, we can become involved in our city’s Jewish Community Relations Council, Holocaust Museum, or other organizations that can spread the word and help educate the public. Third, we need to speak up politically. Sometimes major advancements can be achieved even against the greatest of odds.

Several years ago, four San Antonio women set out to accomplish what most considered to be impossible in the State of Texas. Lisa Barry was an elementary school teacher who included Holocaust studies in her students’ lessons as a way to counter hate and bullying. She got together with Sharon Scharff Greenwald, Varda Ratner, and Ginny Wind, who are members of the San Antonio Chapter of the National Council of Jewish Woman (NCJW). The four of them lobbied to make Holocaust education mandatory in all Texas public schools. After a lot of hard work and their untiring efforts, SB 1828, which established Holocaust Remembrance Week in Texas public schools became law in 2019. Holocaust museums in Texas are actively working with teachers throughout the state and the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission in helping to create the educational material for this designated week. It is imperative that we teach this history, for as espoused in the epigraph from Santayana quoted in William Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” Those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it.

Volume 75. Number 3. 2021

By Larry Jasper, National Editor

Due to a drop in the number of cases related to the pandemic, the Department of Florida decided to hold an in-person convention. We limited the number of attendees to 50, practiced social distancing, and required masks except during meals.

The one-day convention took place at the Delray Beach Golf Club in Delray Beach, Florida on Sunday, June 6. National Commander Jeffrey Sacks and National Vice Commander Alan Paley were both in attendance.

The convention was a joint venture with the Florida JWV Auxiliary, led by State President Verna Rosenzweig.

Also in attendance was Past National Commander Nathan Goldberg who turned 97 a few days later.

In addition to the usual department business and reports, NC Sacks presided over the installation of the Department of Florida Officers and installations for two local Posts.

The convention included a joint memorial service with JWV and JWVA. We also had two presentations via Zoom, with question and answer sessions. Dr. Charles Sand discussed myths associated with the coronavirus and vaccines. Debra Harris talked about suicide prevention and crisis intervention. Sacks also spoke during the JWV/JWVA luncheon.

Volume 75. Number 3. 2021

Ribono Shel Olam, Master of the Universe.

As we deliberate this morning and plan for the future of the Jewish War Veterans of America, let us pause and reflect on both the coming year as well as the year past. The coming Rosh Hashanah conveys a powerful and meaningful message for all attending this important JWV event.

The words Rosh Hashanah mean more than only a New Year. The wisdom of the Hebrew language conveys that Shanah has additional and more subtle meanings. The word Shanah can also mean to repeat or to change.

As we reflect on the events of the past year as well as on our own behavior, we are called upon to engage in introspection and to ask ourselves what is worth repeating and continuing into the coming year and what must be changed for the coming year. This message calling for the contemplation of the need for change or repetition applies not only to individuals, but to organizations as well.

The Shofar that was sounded here this morning at the opening of this session will again be sounded on Rosh Hashanah. The Shofar must serve, recalling the words of Maimonides, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, as a wakeup call to all who hear its penetrating sounds.

The Shofar provides a resonating message from the Ribono Shel Olam, the Commander of the Universe to the U.S. “Commander in Chief ” and to all who command and aspire to command.

Ksiva V’Chasima Tovah

May you and all you hold dear be inscribed in the coming year for a sweet, happy and healthy New Year.

Volume 75. Number 3. 2021

By Sheldon Goldberg, Ph.D.

Between 1933 and 1945, the Nazis built more than 20,000 transit, slave labor, and extermination camps throughout Germany and conquered territories. Millions of men, women, and children were imprisoned, and many millions died in them in cruel and inhuman ways. As one American Jewish liberator said, they were stripped “of the dignity of death.”

In “The Liberation of the Camps,” Professor Dan Stone presents a well-documented, but often heart-breaking rendering of what he called the “process of liberation” and the aftermath. Stone presents the reader with five chapters, covering the liberation by the Red Army, by the Western Allies, the chaos that followed the initial liberation, life in the Displaced Persons Camps, and the issues faced by primarily Jewish survivors as they sought to transition into a new life.

One question that has been asked by other reviewers is how does one define liberation? Is it a joyous end to some form of incarceration or occupation? A time for flag waving and parades? Or is it, as in the case of many of those liberated from the concentration camps, a moment of shame for having survived while so many others did not; a moment of loneliness because everyone they knew and loved were murdered; or of wondering where they go now that their life and home no longer exists? For many, the only liberation granted in the days and weeks that followed was death. Being free was not the end of the trauma for many.

Stone writes that liberation was a complex process, and the events that followed were “fundamental to the unfolding of the post-war years in Europe, to the geopolitics of the Cold War” as well as the future of the British Empire as it impacted events in Palestine and the Middle East. These events and subsequent Allied policies also drove many survivors to reject Europe as a home, insisting that only Palestine could provide them a future.

The Red Army was the first to liberate ghettos and death camps in Eastern Europe. However, Stone fails to differentiate between labor camps and extermination camps. Several of the camps, Sobibor, Belzec, and Treblinka were demolished by the SS, even though evidence of what had taken place there remained. The Soviets took care of the survivors for a short time, but primarily used them for propaganda purposes. “Jews were mentioned only in passing” Stone writes, as they had no ideological value. The defeat of the Nazis was simply a victory for international working-class anti-fascism. Several Soviet reporters who attempted to write the truth had their works suppressed and/or destroyed.

While liberation was not an allied goal, their discovery was mostly accidental. French troops were the first of the Western Allies to discover a concentration camp – Natzweiler-Stuthof – in Alsace in November of 1944. It had a small gas chamber but appeared to be an aberration. That perception changed when the Americans found Ordruf in April of 1945. The troops found thousands of corpses everywhere. Despite being surrounded by death since Normandy, the Americans were totally unprepared for what they found. General Eisenhower, who visited the camp a week later, implored London and Washington to take the reports coming out of Germany seriously. As Rafael Medoff, author of “The Jews Should Keep Quiet,” and others have written, London and Washington knew as early as 1942 that Jews were being murdered in the camps.
Within days of discovering Ordruf, many more camps in Germany and Austria were liberated by American, British, and Canadian troops. The liberation of those camps was well documented, but this was primarily due to the much larger numbers of survivors freed and those who had arrived at these camps following forced death marches from camps in the east as the Nazis fled the Soviet advances. Stone does not hide the fact that many SS officers and camp guards who were captured in the camps were then killed by American forces who were appalled by what they had found. The sights, sounds, smells, and emotions experienced by the liberating soldiers stayed with them for many years afterward.

Stone goes to lengths to describe the misunderstandings that took place between the various liberating militaries, the rescue/relief agencies that came to help, and the liberated. Additionally, he describes the unpreparedness of some agencies to deal with what confronted them after their arrival, and the bureaucracy they had to deal with given the war was still ongoing. He also describes the lack of understanding among the military authorities who looked upon the Jewish survivors as no different than the other displaced persons they were now responsible for. This led to animosity between the Jewish survivors and the Allies who were now viewed as their jailers. Stone describes the efforts of the Jewish survivors to move forward with their lives and organize themselves. Having nowhere else to go, they created sports clubs, theater clubs, orchestras, newspapers, schools for children, celebrated marriages and births, and developed groups designed to be kibbutzniks.

Stone also introduces the role of the burgeoning Cold War which made anti-Communism a higher priority than the needs of Holocaust survivors and prevented liberated Jewish survivors from immigrating to Palestine in order to keep the British relationships with the Arabs intact. The book does not discuss the failure of the then anti-Semitic U.S. State Department and the anti-immigration Congress to fill unused German and Austrian immigration quotas which would have allowed Jews to enter the U.S. during and after the war, possibly saving thousands of lives. That said, “The Liberation of the Camps” puts a different perspective on the current understanding of liberation, what it meant to those who were liberated, and how they fared afterward. It sheds a sliver of light on a time that still affects those who lived through it and their families.

Volume 75. Number 3. 2021