By Itzhak Brook

The 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War occurred this year. The war was launched in 1973 in a surprise attack by Syria and Egypt on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. Even though the signs of an imminent attack were noted by the Israeli intelligence, the Israeli government decided to ignore them for political and strategic reasons. Consequently, the country’s borders were very sparsely defended, creating a dangerous void on the front. The invading armies outnumbered the Israelis at a ratio of more than a hundred to one in manpower and ten to one in armor and artillery.

Because the bulk of the Israel army is comprised of reservists, it took two days to mobilize and deploy the forces. During these critical days it was up to the vastly outnumbered soldiers on the front and Israeli pilots in the sky to hold the line and stall the attackers. It was the heroism and determination of these men and women that saved the country. Their devotion and sacrifice compensated for the woeful lack of sufficient equipment and supplies. The strategic depth of the Sinai desert and Golan Heights also provided the country with the time needed to mobilize the reservists.

This war posed the most serious threat to the existence of Israel in modern history. Even though Israel was eventually able to achieve a military victory, the country paid a steep price, both in lives lost and in the citizenry’s confidence in their leaders and themselves. Almost three thousand soldiers gave their lives — a ratio of one death per one thousand Israelis, a painful price for a nation of three million. Over ten thousand individuals were wounded in the 17 days of fighting. Almost every household and neighborhood were affected. The pain and sorrow felt at the time continues to this day among affected families and the broader Israeli society. Deep within the psyche of the nation, this conflict shattered the conventional wisdom of Israel’s invincibility. It also illustrated the importance of having secure and defensible borders, while highlighting the urgent need for a lasting peace between Israel and its neighbors. An important outcome of the Yom Kippur War was the creation of the 1979 peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, ending more than thirty years of conflict between the two nations.

Assistance from the United States was instrumental in Israel’s victory. Ammunition, spare parts, armor, and fighter jets reached the country at a critical moment, replenishing heavy losses and enabling Israel not only to repel the attackers but to go on the offensive, ending the war 65 miles from Cairo and 25 miles from Damascus. Moreover, the political and military commitments from the United States countered the Soviet Union which had threatened to intervene in the crisis on behalf of their Arab allies.

I was a battalion physician during the Yom Kippur War. Like thousands of Israelis, I joined my battalion which had been assigned to supply the armored corps with ammunition, fuel, water, and food. These soldiers risked their lives, replenishing tanks with fuel and ammunition under enemy fire. I watched them overcome countless difficulties and perform their mission, despite constant danger, many of them paying the ultimate price. It was a daily struggle for survival, requiring resourcefulness and performance despite the constant presence of fear and anxiety. This war articulated my personal definition of courage: the performance of one’s duty despite one’s fear.

For Jews who lived through the Yom Kippur War, the holiest of the High Holy days will never be the same. For us, it stands not only as a day of atonement but as day of gratitude to God for the miracle of survival. It is also a time for remembering those who paid the ultimate price for preserving and protecting Israel and will always commemorate a renewed commitment to preventing Israel from ever experiencing such a peril in the future.

Dr Itzhak Brook is a Professor at Georgetown University and the author of the book: “In the Sands of Sinai- A Physician’s Account of the Yom Kippur War.” The book can be read free and/or obtained at: yomkippurwarphysiciansaccount.blogspot.com/

Volume 77. Number 4. 2023

By Allan Cantor, Post 256

Ralph Hockley, born Rudolph Martin Hockenheimer, was a Holocaust survivor and Post 256 Jewish War Veteran member. Hockley was born on October 17, 1925 into a Jewish household in Karlsruhe, Germany. When Hockley was only eight years old, Hitler rose to power in Germany. In 1935, Hockley’s family escaped to Marseilles, France where Hockley learned French and excelled in school. Shortly after France was invaded, Hockley’s father was arrested for being an “enemy alien” and held in various concentration camps.

At only 14 years old, Hockley was expelled from school. Hockley became an interpreter for the American Friends Service Committee office (AFSC). Hockley used his connections in this position to secure his family, including his father, United States visas.

Ralph went to the draft board on his 18th birthday and began active duty on December 29, 1943. Hockley was a “Ritchie Boy” and was in Paris to celebrate the official end of World War II in Europe. Shortly after this, Hockley completed his service, but remained in the Army Reserve.

Hockley attended Syracuse University earning in BA in Soviet Studies in 1949. Following his degree, he returned to the U.S. Army before the start of the Korean War. Hockley served in seven campaigns in Korea where he earned a Bronze Star with a “V” device for Valor for service.

Hockley relocated to Dallas, TX where he became a member of Post 256. He published a book called Freedom is Not Free. This book detailed his experiences in Nazi Germany, and his service throughout the Korean War and the Cold War. In 2021, Hockley was awarded the Légion d’Honneur, France’s top civilian honor, in recognition of his heroism and service with their units in Korea.

Starting in 2022, Hockley began working closely with the Dallas Holocaust and Human Right Museum sharing his story with adult and student groups.

On November 8, 2023, Hockley passed away at 98 years old. He is survived by his wife, Carolyn, and his children, Cliff and Denise, stepchildren Kris, Heidi, and Kirk, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He is predeceased by his first wife, Eva Frankel.

Volume 77. Number 4. 2023

By Bryn Garick, Managing Editor

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Under Secretary for Benefits Joshua Jacobs delivered the keynote address during the opening ceremony of JWV’s 128th Annual National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida. Jacobs recognized the hard work that VA is doing to support veterans, saying that 2023 has been an extremely successful year for providing benefits to veterans and their families.

“Since the President took office, and with JWV’s support, we’ve delivered more care and more benefits to more veterans than at any other time in our history,” Jacobs said. “And all of that work adds up to the one statistic that actually matters most: Veterans’ lives saved or improved by the work that we do together.”

Jacobs addressed a primary goal of the VA: preventing veteran suicide. The 2022 VA National Suicide Prevention Annual Report states in 2020 the unadjusted rate for suicide among Veterans was nearly double the rate among non-Veterans.

Jacobs referenced 2022’s convention when keynote speaker VA Secretary Denis McDonough spoke about the rollout of the National Suicide Prevention Program “988 Press 1.” “Since that launch, the hotline has fielded over 1 million calls, texts, and messages with an average time to answer just under 10 seconds,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs remarked on veterans’ timely access to high quality healthcare. “In just the past year, veterans have had over 73 million out-patient appointments at VA, and 37 million more out-patient appointments with community care providers.” He addressed the increase in telehealth appointments, which provide veterans with needed care from the comfort of their own home “Creating more convenient healthcare through streamlined telehealth services and technology improvements has improved average wait times in nearly 60% of our facilities,” Jacobs said.

August 10th marked the one-year anniversary of the PACT Act, which expands health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances. Jacobs indicated that “veterans and survivors have filed over 2 million [PACT Act] claims,” adding that “VA has awarded nearly two billion dollars in earned benefits to veterans, their families, and survivors who have filed PACT act related claims.”

Jacobs then mentioned that the VA Life Insurance Policy “provides low-cost coverage to Veterans with service-connected disabilities.” He further explained that VA Life allows Veterans with any rating of service-related disability to apply, including those with 0% ratings.

Jacobs then spoke to other pressing concerns facing our society: antisemitism and other forms of hatred. Jacobs noted the incident that had just occurred in Jacksonville the day before, in which the cowardly gunman “drew swastikas on his guns.” Jacobs expressed that this incident has no place in our society. Jacobs stated that Americans must recommit to tackling all forms of hatred including racism and antisemitism.

“In order for us to combat and confront antisemitism, Americans first must recognize and understand it,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs then talked about the Administration’s National Strategy to Combat Antisemitism. “This strategy is the most ambitious and comprehensive United States government-led effort to fight antisemitism in American history,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs is the VA representative on the White House Interagency Policy Committee to Combat Antisemitism. He explained that the committee has developed a strategy that reflects input from the Jewish community as well as JWV and serves as a blueprint for tackling other forms of bigotry.

“Simply put, antisemitism has no place in America; all Americans should forcefully reject antisemitism wherever it exists,” said Jacobs. “We must stand united against hate to preserve the values that each of you fought to defend.”

Jacobs affirmed that the VA has taken steps in support of that national strategy.

“With your help, we’re going to keep our sacred promise to those who served and sacrificed for this country and to serve all Veterans as well as they’ve served us,” Jacobs declared at the conclusion of this address. “So, thank you for your service, for your unyielding dedication to ending discrimination, and for fighting like hell for our veterans alongside us.”

Volume 77. Number 3. 2023

By Bryn Garick, Managing Editor

Marcia Jo Zerivitz, LHD spoke to JWV members during a National Museum of American Jewish Military History (NMAJMH) event at our National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida. Zerivitz is the Founding Executive Director of the Jewish Museum of Florida – FIU.

Zerivitz spoke on the contributions of Florida Jews in the Military and Jacksonville Jewish History.

“Thousands of Floridian Jews have served in the US military in all ranks: in the Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, and Air Force. They display courage as officers and regular soldiers, nurses, doctors, and chaplains,” Zerivitz said.

Zerivitz went on to provide her background on the subject specifically citing her research and book “Jews in Florida” that helped her to develop the Jewish Museum of Florida.

“Even though Florida is the nation’s third largest Jewish community with about 800,000 Jews, which is about 3.4 percent of the state’s population, and it’s the first place where Jews arrived in what became the United States, no one else had done the research and recorded the history,” Zerivitz said on why she wrote her book. “Second, to debunk myths like the notion that the history started on Miami Beach post World War II, and in reality it was St. Augustine 348 years prior. Third, it is important to have Jewish memories for Jewish continuity. And fourth because it is timely with a staggering rise in antisemitism.”

Zerivitz collected the evidence for her book by “conducting nearly 1,000 oral histories and collecting material evidence to back up the stories.”

According to Zerivitz, while less than 500 Jewish people served in the military during the time of the Seminole Wars, their influence on the war and overall American military was instrumental.
“Jewish US Army Lieutenant Meer M. Cohen volunteered and was stationed in St. Augustine. He made detailed notes that became his book that provides a very clear eyewitness account of the conflict,” Zerivitz said.

Well-known figure Uriah P. Levy was the first Jewish commodore of the US Navy. According to Zerivitz, he was “a promoter of justice and human rights [and] instrumental in abolishing corporal punishment in the Navy. Levy prevailed against antisemitism from some of his fellow naval officers.”

Levy’s influence on the military didn’t end there, though. “During the Second Seminole War,” Zerivitz explained, “Levy was the Master Commandant of the USS Vandalia, an 18-gun sloop of war which cooperated with land forces in Florida and helped to suppress the late slave trade.”

Zerivitz sites Moses Levy as one of the most important people in early Florida Jewish History.

“In 1822, Moses Levy built his 1,000-acre Pilgrimage plantation just south of Gainesville,” Zerivitz said. “It was intended as a refuge for oppressed European Jews to become farmers in a communitarian settlement, the first on US soil. Its main commodity was sugarcane,” which Levy had reintroduced to Florida.

M. Levy continued to be influential to Florida beyond its economy through his son David Levy, who was both the first US Senator from Florida and the first Jewish US Senator.

D. Levy wasn’t immune to antisemitism though: “Vice President John Quincy Adams referred to him as that alien Jew delegate from Florida,” Zerivitz noted, but also that he didn’t let that stop him from developing Florida.

According to Zerivitz, David Levy was instrumental in Florida becoming the 27th state in 1845, even helping to draft Florida’s constitution.

Levy concluded her address by emphasizing that Jewish Americans’ history in the Military particularly in Florida extend far past these couple early influential figures.

“These stories are our collective historic memories, our roots,” Zerivitz said. “What I learned is that history helps us understand society and change. Our memories of history are what define us. We need to hear the stories, preserve them, and pass them down to those who follow us.”

Volume 77. Number 3. 2023

By Jodi Harman

Despite a heat index of over 100° Fahrenheit, several dozen people gathered under one of the massive oak trees dotting Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday, September 6, 2023, to pay tribute to Major General Orde Wingate, British Army.

Wreath Laying Ceremony (U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery / released)

Wreath Laying Ceremony
(U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery / released)

JWV’s 79th Anniversary Orde Wingate Memorial Ceremony was overseen by 2023-2024 JWV National Commander (NC) Barry Lischinsky, who welcomed special guests British Ambassador to the USA Dame Karen Pierce, DCMG, and Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) for the Embassy of Israel Eliav Benjamin and was joined by Past National Commander Nelson Mellitz. All spoke of MG Wingate’s many contributions to both Britain and Israel, specifically his essential role in the formation of Israeli Defense Forces.

Kassie Sandacz and Bob Burgoslaw from Voices of Vets provided lovely renditions of all three countries’ national anthems: “God Save the King”, “Hatikvah”, and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 2023-2024 National Vice Commander Gary Ginsburg led those gathered in the “Pledge of Allegiance” after Arlington National Cemetery’s Color Guard presented the Colors.

Ambassador Pierce, DCM Benjamin, and NC Lischinsky presented a wreath at the tomb where Wingate was interred along with five American service members and four British service members and civilians who perished on March 24, 1944, when their plane crashed in route to Burma. Taps sounded in the background, provided by Rob Eisenberg of Bugles Across America.

Given the nearness of the ceremony to Rosh Hashanah, Rabbi Chesky Tenenbaum ended the event with the blowing of the shofar.

Volume 77. Number 3. 2023

By Falk Kantor

During World War II a US Army P-38 Lightning fighter aircraft with the nickname “JEWBOY” boldly written on its side flew in combat against the German Luftwaffe in the skies over Europe. The pilot was Philip M. Goldstein.

Born in Baltimore, MD, in 1920 to parents who once performed in vaudeville, Philip Goldstein was raised in the Philadelphia area. From his early days Phil had a love for music and following his graduation from high school, he enlisted in the US Army in 1940 with the goal of serving in the Army Band. He was first assigned to a machine-gun company but soon transferred to the 12th Infantry Regimental Band where he played the French horn.

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Phil was motivated to enter aviation training in the Army Air Corps. As an aviation cadet, he began flight training in California and eventually qualified as a pilot in the P-38, a single seat, twin engine, fighter aircraft. In October 1943, Phil was shipped overseas initially to North Africa where he trained Allied pilots to fly the P-38. He was then assigned to the 49th Fighter Squadron, 14th Fighter Group at Triolo, Italy.

All of Phil’s fifty combat missions were flown in 1944. While escorting B-17s and B-24s he had several victories, including a Messerschmitt ME-109 and a Focke-Wulf 190. He was also credited with destroying four Junkers JU-88 bombers during a strafing attack on a German airfield in Italy.

There were not many Jews in Goldstein’s unit. Phil himself was, not always affectionately, referred to as Jewboy. As Phil tells the story, one morning following one of his aerial victories, he went out to the flight line and there was “JEWBOY” painted on the side of his aircraft by his crew chief, Maurice Weiner. Phil understood the implications if he was shot down and captured but said he didn’t give a damn.

Phil returned to the US in July 1944 where he served as a flight instructor at Santa Rosa Air Base in California. During a dance at a synagogue in San Francisco he met his future wife, then a physics student at the University of California. Phil was discharged in California in June 1945 where he eventually began a career in the insurance business. Phil passed away on June 29, 2018 in San Francisco at the age of 97.

He was a proud fighter pilot, one of the 500,000 Jews who served in WW II, whose message that he boldly flew in the skies over Europe still resonates today.

Volume 77. Number 3. 2023

By PNC Harvey Weiner

On September 10, 2023, JWV members came from all over the state of Massachusetts to celebrate the creation of a new JWV post in Massachusetts, certainly the first in the Department in at least fifty years. Perhaps it is the first new post north of the Mason-Dixon line during that same time period.

The event was held in the Cape Cod Synagogue in Hyannis, with nary a Kennedy in sight. The new post is numbered 508 and is named the Cape & Islands Post. PNCs, Ira Novoselsky and Harvey Weiner, National Commander Bary Lischinsky, Massachusetts Department Commander, Dr. Sidney L. Davis and several other Massachusetts JWV stalwarts attended and spoke at the ceremony.

What is remarkable and unprecedented is that the new Post includes fifteen (15) brand new JWV members. This post was mainly the efforts of new Post Commander, retired Lt. Col. Gary Gordon (U.S. Army), assisted by past JWV National Chaplain Rear Admiral Rabbi Harold Robinson, (U.S. Navy (Ret.)). Leaders of the Department provided guidance and encouragement prior to and during its formation, but it was the efforts of a couple of determined individuals that recruited their new members and created the Post.

Gordon is Post Commander and Robinson is Senior Vice Commander and Chaplain. New member Ron Kramer is Junior Vice Commander and new member Harvey Albert is Quartermaster.
And the new Post Commander indicates that there are three other possible new members!

Volume 77. Number 3. 2023

 

By Ken Greenberg, National Executive Director

JWV is in a unique position to have a special focus on antisemitism. JWV opposes all forms of discrimination and bigotry but is especially outspoken on antisemitism. During 2023, JWV leadership participated in numerous roundtables and called out individuals for hate speech and antisemitism. JWV will continue to be a strong voice to combat antisemitism wherever and whenever it occurs.

As the only Jewish VSO, we issued statements condemning antisemitic events and speeches at the University of Pennsylvania “Palestine Writes Literature Festival,” the City University of New York law school graduation, the Goyim Defense League hate flyers on Long Island and remarks by a Member of Congress in Chicago. As instances of antisemitism across the country increase, JWV asks all Americans to be vigilant, learn, and educate our fellow citizens. JWV’s full statements are provided in this article.

JWV Calls on University of Pennsylvania Leadership to Prevent Hate Speech on Campus
September 20th, 2023

The Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America (JWV) remains deeply concerned that the Palestine Writes Literature Festival will be held on campus September 22-24, 2023. The festival coincides with the Jewish High Holiday of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and takes place next to the location that Jewish students will be holding high holiday worship services. JWV National Commander retired US Army Colonel Barry Lischinsky stated, “University leadership should be sensitive to the needs of Jewish students and faculty and not provide a venue or platform for hate speech of any kind on campus.” Lischinsky made clear, “The University must be responsive to its students and increase security around Jewish activities and move the festival to a different location, preferably off campus grounds.”

JWV urges alumni and others to write University President M. Elizabeth Magill to disapprove of the “Palestine Writes Literature Festival” and to prevent the University from providing space to those that promote hate speech, bigotry, and antisemitic remarks and events on campus. Lischinsky reiterated that “JWV will continue to stand against hatred, bigotry, and combating antisemitism wherever and whenever it occurs.”

Background
Most “Palestine Writes Literature Festival” speakers have little to do with celebrating Palestinian literature or promoting the culture of Palestinian writers and artists. Guest speakers have published antisemitic statements in the past which conflict with the University of Pennsylvania’s antisemitism policy. Speakers have previously given anti-Jewish speeches which are clearly “hate speech” and are again in violation of the university policy and the U.S. Constitution related to freedom of speech.

Members and patrons of the Jewish War Veterans and others have fought, and many have given the ultimate sacrifice, to preserve the rights covered by the U.S. Constitution. While there is nothing illegal about the University of Pennsylvania event itself, the event speakers’ anti-Jewish hate remarks should not be allowed on campus.

Antisemitism Curricula in California Schools
JWV signs and stands in support of the coalition letter the AMCHA Initiative wrote to the California Legislative Jewish Caucus asking for their help in preventing the implementation of widespread antisemitic curricula in California high schools.

JWV Denounces Antisemitic Remarks by Representative Jayapal
July 17th, 2023

The Jewish War Veterans of the USA (JWV) expressed outrage at the remarks of U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA) given on Saturday in Chicago stating that Israel is a “racist state.”
JWV National Commander Colonel Nelson L. Mellitz, USAF (Retired) denounced the comments of Congresswoman Jayapal (WA) as “insensitive, hurtful, and just wrong.” As antisemitism is on the rise, remarks like hers only fuel the fires of hate and bigotry. “JWV continues to stand in support of Israel as we have since its rebirth as well as vehemently oppose antisemitism, wherever and whenever it occurs, as we have since our founding in 1896,” said Mellitz.

JWV Calls on New York Law Enforcement to fully Prosecute Individuals Responsible for Goyim Defense League Hate Flyers
June 19th, 2023

“Flyers recently distributed by the Goyim Defense League in Nassau County, New York are extremely antisemitic and filled with hate. They are despicable and threats to any Americans must be dealt with swiftly,’’ said Colonel Nelson L. Mellitz, USAF, retired, National Commander of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA (JWV).

The flyer singles out current and former Jewish Members of Congress and contains a weapon in the upper left corner with a Star of David placed on the foreheads of elected officials from several states. Mellitz “implores New York law enforcement officials to fully prosecute the individuals responsible for the flyers.” Law enforcement confirmed the flyer was found at a Jewish house of worship and at several residences in the Plainview, NY area.

JWV Condemns CUNY Law School Speaker’s Comments and Calls on CUNY Leadership to Denounce Antisemitic Remarks
June 4th, 2023

Jewish War Veterans National Commander Colonel Nelson L. Mellitz, USAF, Retired, expressed outrage at the hate filled graduation speech delivered at the City University of New York (CUNY) Law School graduation by Fatima Mohammed.

Jewish men and women have served in the U.S. military in greater numbers than their percentage of the total population, since the founding of our great republic to preserve the right of free speech. The Fatima Mohammed anti-Jewish hateful graduation speech is a direct attack against what we have fought so hard to preserve for almost 250 years. “Her comments are extreme, inflammatory, filled with anger and have no place in any setting in the United States,” said Mellitz.

JWV calls on CUNY and the law school leadership to take immediate action to denounce her antisemitic remarks and assure that students are not provided a forum to promote hatred and antisemitism in the future.

Coalition Building

JWV is strengthening our efforts by partnering with organizations like Combating Antisemitism Movement (CAM), the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism (FCAS). They are more commonly known as Stand Up to Jewish Hate or #BlueSquare. We have carried our message to Congress and asked Members to join us in combating antisemitism targeted at veterans and military servicemembers. We partnered with CAM and six Jewish Community Organizations for a forum with ten Members of Congress on Capitol Hill. We are working with FCAS to expand outreach to include Jewish Federations and JCCs across the county. We connected with StandWithUs, to take our efforts to combat antisemitism on college campuses. JWV is a resource in helping to educate Americans. Education is the key to reducing antisemitic actions and incidents in America and around the world.

National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism

In a High Holidays call with American Jewish leaders before Rosh Hashanah, President Joe Biden reaffirmed his commitment to “condemn and combat antisemitism at every turn” and said his administration had “started aggressively implementing” the National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism it unveiled in May of this year. VA’s representative is Under Secretary for Benefits Joshua Jacobs and he continues to consult with JWV leadership for issues related to the veteran and military community.

At our Convention in Jacksonville, Karen Barall Associate VP of the Jewish Federation of North America briefed JWV on the National Strategy. She highlighted four pillars of the document that focused on:

  1. Increase awareness and understanding of antisemitism, including its threat to America, and broaden appreciation of Jewish American heritage.
  2. Improve safety and security for Jewish communities.
  3. Reverse the normalization of antisemitism and counter antisemitic discrimination.
  4. Build cross-community solidarity and collective action to counter hate.

Chet Edwards Speaks Out on Jacksonville Shooting

“JWV is uniquely powerful and an important voice in the fight against antisemitism in our country. Thank you for being that voice. America is a better country today because of your voice and we will be a better country tomorrow. As we are here in Jacksonville, I would be remiss not to say what we all know. What happened here three days ago was an unspeakable, unconscionable, tragic assault, not just on African Americans in Jacksonville. It was an assault upon our country, the very soul of our country, very heart of our country. I think it’s also important for all Americans to understand that that young terrorist, that the killer had etched Nazi swastikas on his A-15. I think that is a message that needs to go out across this country. Let me also add that as a lifelong Methodist and the son-in-law of a Baptist minister, I feel a responsibility to be a partner with you in the fight against bigotry and antisemitism. All Americans of all faiths and backgrounds must join in the fight against antisemitism because antisemitism diminishes our country and what you were willing to give your life for. So, when I leave this convention today, I will double my effort to be a voice with you against antisemitism.” August 29th, 2023.

Volume 77. Number 3. 2023

 

 

By Ken Greenberg, National Executive Director

Former Texas Congressman Chet Edwards participated in the Advocacy, Legislation and Grassroots Activities session during our 2023 National Convention. During his tenure in Congress, Edwards represented a district including Fort Hood and two VA medical centers. Throughout his career, he was a champion for the veteran and military community, having served in leadership positions on the House Veterans Affairs Committee as well as being Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on VA Military Construction.

The session was led by National Executive Director Ken Greenberg, who highlighted the importance of coalition building like The Military Coalition and National Military Veterans Alliance, two consortiums of more that 30 VSOs working together to advocate for veterans and military benefits.

Edwards emphasized the importance of establishing local and DC relationships with Members of Congress and their staff; setting up quarterly meetings to advocate for JWV priorities, and even inviting them to Department or Post meetings. Edwards message was clear “Members listen to their constituents, your voice matters, and you can make a difference in influencing a vote.”
Greenberg highlighted that JWV Departments, Posts and members need to be known to officials at their local VA medical centers, regional offices, national cemeteries, and DOD facilities. “Cultivating relationships at the local level leads to a better understanding of issues, improves access and lets VA and DOD leaders know JWV, who we are, and what we do,“ said Greenberg.
Both encouraged members to promote and establish local relationships with media, press and TV stations. Reach out to local Jewish publications and develop partnerships with Jewish Community Organizations like Hillel, Federations, Synagogues, and day schools.

JWV members must be engaged locally to tell their stories and once a story is run – the contact will return for more stories and events. Plan your pitch for a story around Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jewish American Heritage Month or one of the Jewish holidays or festivals.

Moving forward remember to partner with other local VSOs, like DAV, VFW, American Legion, VVA, ROA and MOAA on mutually supported issues. There is strength in numbers especially when you are advocating to elected officials at the federal, state, or local levels.

You can find the video of the session at JWV’s YouTube channel.

Volume 77. Number 3. 2023

By Alan Muskowitz, Department of Michigan

Art Fishman and Frances Masters accepted the award on behalf of all Michigan’s WII veterans and Rosies

Michigan was famously known as the “Arsenal of Democracy” during WWII. In 2013, Michigan state Senate and House passed resolutions recognizing The Michigan WWII Legacy Memorial as the state’s tribute to its contributions during WWII.

Now, 10 years later, the board of the memorial was making good on their promise to Michigan’s WWII veterans and Rosie the Riveters that a tribute to their sacrifice, both on the warfront and homefront, would have a permanent home in Royal Oak’s Memorial Park.

The Jewish War Veterans Dept. of Michigan have been longtime supporters of The Michigan WWII Legacy Memorial since JWV-MI Sr. Vice Commander Art Fishman introduced the project to them over a decade ago. They’ve been regular attendees at the memorial’s annual fundraising galas where Fishman and fellow JWV-MI Guy Stern have both been honored with the organization’s Victory Award.

JWV-MI have been regular financial contributors to the memorial project and purchasers of bricks for the Walk of Honor. Their latest donation came on the morning of the dedication when representatives of the JWV-MI gathered at the site for a special check presentation to the memorial board.

The highlight of the day was the official dedication of the memorial when Fishman, 96-, and 101-year-old Frances Masters, an original Rosie the Riveter, received standing ovations from the stage. The two were chosen to officially accept the memorial on behalf of all Michigan’s WWII veterans and Rosies.

Fishman, who served in the Navy, has volunteered tirelessly on behalf of the memorial project for the last 10 years. Even in the days leading up to the dedication you could find him assisting board members in the positioning of the brick pavers donated by all three JWV Michigan posts.

Volume 77. Number 3. 2023