By Rabbi Irwin Wiener
In 1965, sitting in front of my television, a newsflash appeared listing the death toll in Vietnam. In those days, it was a daily occurrence. The intensity of the conflict was beginning to show signs of terrible days and years ahead.

What caught my eye at that time was a name I had not seen, nor uttered, for many years, Major Alan Pasco. He was a childhood friend growing up in the Bronx, New York. We hung out, played basketball, went to the same playground, and just enjoyed life. He was one of the first casualties.
These thoughts came to mind when I recently viewed a movie, “The Last Full Measure.” This period in our history still brings back horrific images of maimed bodies, lost limbs, lost lives, and lost opportunities. The men who sacrificed so much for so little have no future, no love to warm their hearts, no families to watch as they join for holidays and other celebrations.

These men and women will never have families of their own, no children to shower with affection, no stories of growing old while enjoying the fruits of their labors. There are no tomorrows, only yesterdays. In the ten years of the Vietnam War there were 58,220 casualties.
I watched this film, tears rolling down my cheeks, not truly understanding the purpose of the sacrifices. My mind wandered to the early 1970s, when our country showed its disdain for the war by shunning our men and women in uniform. At that time, America showed its anger and frustration by insulting and criticizing the actions of these brave souls.

The one thing we did not do is focus our contempt on the people who brought us to the brink of disgust in anything and everything our country was now involved in. From the Secretary of Defense, to the Secretary of State, to the Generals, and of course, to the President of the United States, we neglected to remind them their obligations rested with the care and safety of those we send into battle. Time and again we read and witnessed the lack of fortitude in determining the value of this so-called undeclared war.

Over, and over, I watched as the pain of their involvement became too much to bear. The wounded, the dead, all giving the last full measure in an attempt to survive and fulfill their obligations as patriots. Young and old joined together to help each other in the madness they encountered. Medics tried to piece together the broken and shattered remnants of what was once whole.

None of us can truly understand the torment, the agony, the despair felt as fellow soldiers fell at the feet of their comrades. Can we ever focus on the blood soaked ground and not feel ashamed at the senseless slaughter of our brothers, our fathers, our sons, and our future?
Perhaps only eyes washed by tears can see clearly the futility of war. Perhaps the tragedies we encounter are less significant than what happens within us. This, to me, is the reality of death and destruction perpetrated on ourselves as we try to justify this madness.

Airman First Class William Pitsenbarger, to me, is a symbol of both what is right with our service men and women and at the same time, what is wrong with the way we treat them as they display the heroism expected. The depression, homelessness, and lack of proper medical treatment are all indications of our neglect for the sanctity of life and gratitude for their service.

People like Airman First Class Pitsenbarger and all who have served and continue to serve are owed a debt of gratitude. He represented all that is good in us. He represented the sacrifices we are willing to make to protect who we are. He represented, and still represents, the millions who serve, who give of themselves so that we can enjoy the beauty of freedom and the values established by the few for so many.

Have we learned anything from this travesty? Have we learned anything from the lack of respect we display by ignoring the traumas of these dedicated individuals? Will we ever stand up and demonstrate our concern for all those we are responsible for?

Yes, my dear friend Major Alan Pasco gave his life in defense of his country. Yes, 58,220 other men sacrificed so much for so little in return. Yes, Airman First Class William Pitsenbarger comforted the wounded, attempted to offer comfort in an atmosphere of despair, and taught us how the power of one person can make a difference. Yes, Vietnam is in the past, but it should not be forgotten.

And yes, the stark memorial dedicated to their memories should remind us we owe so much that can never truly be repaid, but we should never stop trying.

Volume 74. Number 2. 2020

By Falk Kantor
During JWV’s 27th Annual Mission to Israel, I participated in a tour of the Armor Corps Museum at Latrun. Our tour guide, retired Brig. Gen. Zvi Kan-Tor asked if anyone knew Maurice Rose. No one raised their hand. That’s when I vowed to learn all I could about Rose.
U.S. Army Major General Maurice Rose died during World War II while leading the 3rd Armored Division into Germany. At the time of his death, Rose was the highest ranking Jewish officer in the U.S. Army and the highest ranking American killed by enemy fire in the European Theater.
Maurice Rose’s grandfather, a Rabbi, lead one of Poland’s premier centers of Jewish learning. Rose’s father Samuel, served as the Rabbi for a congregation in Denver, Colorado for more than 40 years.

After graduating high school in 1916, Rose lied about his age in order to enlist in the Colorado National Guard. When superiors found out about his real age six weeks later, they discharged him. Once the United States entered World War I, Rose re-enlisted, and became a 2nd Lieutenant in the 89th Infantry Division.

The 89th Division fought at St. Mihiel where Lt Rose was wounded by shrapnel and hospitalized. After three weeks, he left the hospital without authorization to rejoin his unit. However, while in the hospital, Rose listed his religion as Protestant, and maintained that affiliation throughout his Army career. There is no record he formally converted.

In the first American offensive of World War II, Rose served as chief of staff for the 2nd Armored Division in North Africa where he received his first Silver Star. Rose received a promotion to Brigadier General and took command of the 2nd Armored Division. Rose led his troops in combat across Sicily and then into France shortly after D-Day.

General Rose became the commander of the 3rd Armored Division during combat in France in August 1944. Shortly thereafter, Rose received a promotion to Major General. Under Rose’s leadership, the 3rd Armored Division led an advance across northern France and Belgium. On September 12, Rose’s division became the first armored unit to enter Germany and the first to breech the Siegfried Line.

During the winter of 1944-45, Rose’s division helped stem the German advance in the Battle of the Bulge. They captured Cologne on March 7. On March 29, the Division made the longest one-day advance through enemy territory by any Allied division during the war, more than 100 miles, stopping just south of the German city of Paderborn.

When the 3rd Division started advancing towards Paderborn the next day, Rose took his usual place up front with his forward echelon. During the fighting a German tank got in the way of the jeep. The tank’s hatch opened and a German with a machine pistol began shouting at the jeep’s three occupants as they stood with raised hands in front of the tank in the fading daylight. As General Rose reached for his holster to surrender his pistol, several bursts of machine gun fire struck the General. The General’s aide and driver fled the area and made it back to the U.S. lines.

When 45-year-old Rose was buried in Margraten in the Netherlands, the military placed a Star of David above his grave. After a review of his records, the Army replaced the star with a cross after finding that he had listed Protestant as his religious affiliation.

While there may be questions about Rose’s religion and the symbol marking his grave, he remains the son and grandson of rabbis.

Volume 74. Number 2. 2020

By Gershon Katz
It’s widely known that Jewish members of the U.S. Armed Forces have served on many lands, fighting to protect America’s national interests or helping other nations break free from the yoke of tyranny. Our service men and women have deployed to some of the world’s most inhospitable places. A soldier, sailor, or airman may have briefly enjoyed leave in one of the world’s most beautiful places, but would probably relegate the experience to memory. With this in mind, you may take it for granted that after serving our country overseas, veterans have headed back to America.
You won’t find JWV posts in swampy Guadalcanal, frigid Chosin, or beautiful Paris. However, many of our brother and sister Jewish veterans and their families have made their home in the land of milk and honey, the land of Israel. Not only are we surviving and thriving here, but we’re organized, too. We’re proud to assemble for fellowship and service under the banner of Jewish War Veterans Post 180, headquartered in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel and the Jewish people. At one time, four JWV posts existed in Israel. They were in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Netanya.

As a result of attrition and consolidation, JWV Post 180 is now the only post operating in the Jewish state. Although small in number, we are a vibrant post whose members meet several times a year for camaraderie, good food, and enlightening entertaining appearances by a range of guest speakers. Post 180 not only provides its members with good times, but also contributes to the well being of Israel and its people by supporting various causes in the community.
Our members, who represent a cross section of American-Israeli society, are proud of their service to the United States. We have relocated to Israel to live a more spiritual life. Unflinching in our love for the United States and our admiration for those who currently serve in her armed forces, we are also proud citizens of Israel and supporters of the Israel Defense Forces. Included among our members are parents and grandparents of English speaking veterans of the IDF. We avail ourselves of many opportunities to show support for the defenders of our second homeland. We make financial contributions to IDF and veterans’ support organizations, and we cheer for our soldiers at ceremonies and events. We’ve also devised a way to show support in a personal manner – many of our members carry small cards which they present to soldiers wherever they meet them. The cards bear an expression of gratitude and a wish for the soldier’s safety, in both Hebrew and English.

Our Post Commander, Abraham Kriss, has lived in Israel for 18 years. He’s been a JWV Post 180 member for all of that time. He currently lives in Jerusalem with his wife, Sarah. He served in the U.S. Army between the Korean and Vietnam Wars, spending 18 months in Korea. One of his three children lives in Israel with his wife and seven children, and three of his grandsons have completed service in the Israel Defense Force. His fourth grandson currently serves in an IDF combat unit.

Rabbi Yaakov Iskowitz is the chaplain of JWV Post 180. He served as a chaplain in the U.S. Army for 20 years, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. He was stationed in Missouri, Colorado, New York, New Jersey, Korea, and in both Stuttgart and Frankfurt, Germany. His career included five years on the staff of the U.S. Army Chaplains’ School. Born in Pittsburgh, Rabbi Iskowitz made aliyah to Israel in 1988. He is married with seven children, plus grand- and great-grandchildren.

Rabbi Alan Greenspan, who served as a U.S. Army chaplain, retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. He and his wife, Gaila, live in Efrat, south of Jerusalem. Rabbi Greenspan served from 1962 to 1987, including a stint in Vietnam, where he led Passover Seders under very trying conditions. A memorable posting for Rabbi and Mrs. Greenspan was their three-year tour of duty in the Panama Canal Zone, where they served military personnel and Jewish canal workers. The Greenspans came to Israel on aliyah in 1989.

Our leaders and members include several other career service members, and a number of other veterans who served in war and peacetime in various locations. We have quite a few associate members, whose family members served in the U.S. armed forces.
Our group has met with several interesting people in the past few years.

In 2018, we heard from Tom Sawicki, Director of Programming in Israel for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee/American Israel Education Foundation. Sawicki coordinates visits to the region by members of the U.S. Congress and other politically influential individuals. A journalist by profession, he keeps AIPAC’s national office up to date on developments in Israel and the Middle East, and is in frequent contact with political, media, and academic leaders in Israel.
In early 2019, we heard from Ziva Mekonen-Degu, who at the time served as Executive Director of the Association of Ethiopian Jews (AEJ), Ethiopian Jewry’s flagship organization in Israel. Mekonen-Degu made aliyah to Israel from Ethiopia in 1984 at the age of 11. Accomplished academically and professionally, she has served and advocated on behalf of the Ethiopian Israeli community and other populations in need.

At our next meeting, we met with Uri Ehrenfeld, a retired member of Israel’s security forces. Ehrenfeld was a POW during the Yom Kippur War. He is fortunate to have survived not only the battle, but cruel treatment at the hands of his Egyptian captors. Still suffering from the effects of this ordeal, Ehrenfeld came to us as a representative of the Zahal (Israel Defense Forces) Disabled Veterans’ Organization. Ehrenfeld is active on many fronts on behalf of veterans, especially those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). His energy and knowledge in veterans’ affairs is matched by his Positive Mental Attitude (PMA).

Our captivating speakers are not only drawn from the ranks of Israeli society or American supporters of Israel. At our most recent meeting, we were graced with the presence of His Excellency Mario Bucaro Flores, Guatemala’s ambassador to Israel. Shortly after the U.S. embassy moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Guatemala followed suit. This is not the Central American nation’s first presence in our capital. The Guatemalan embassy was located in Jerusalem from 1956 to 1980. Ambassador Bucaro, a veteran of Guatemala’s air force, is a warm, engaging individual. He is an eloquent representative of his country. He expressed his country’s official position that Israel is the natural, historic homeland of the Jewish people. He also expressed his personal joy at serving in a place where he feels appreciated and at home.

As this piece is being written, in person meetings of JWV Post 180 and other groups throughout the country have been on hiatus for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic. While the virus’ effect on the health of people throughout the world is severe, people’s solidarity with their fellow human beings has grown. This was expressed directly in our post leadership’s recent virtual meeting with National Commander Harvey Weiner, Chief of Staff Barry Lischinsky, and staff member Christy Turner. We haven’t started online JWV meetings in Israel yet. In the meantime, let’s express our support for one another in a spiritual way, via prayer and mitzvot.

Our post especially enjoys meeting with the JWV-USA mission to Israel each spring. This year, the trip unfortunately did not take place. Hopefully the coronavirus crisis will be abated soon by scientific advances and concerted public health efforts. We look forward to greeting the 2021 JWV-USA contingent in Israel, with joyous shouts of “This year in Jerusalem!”

Volume 74. Number 2. 2020

By Jeffrey Blonder
May 20, 2020 marked the 11th anniversary of the death of U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Roslyn Schulte. A roadside bomb killed Schulte while traveling to Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. She was only 25-years-old and the first female graduate of the Air Force Academy to die in combat. I met her briefly the day before she died and did not know her name until after she died.

In 2008 I served at Camp Mike Spann in Mazār-i-Sharīf, Afghanistan for 15 months. I was assigned to the base as a Naval Reservist and my mission was to be a Combat Advisor to the Afghanistan National Army. I was also the Senior Enlisted Leader for the naval element on base. At the time of my deployment, Camp Mike Spann was a small Forward Operating Base in Northern Afghanistan. One of my jobs was to assign personnel to augment the base security forces when it needed to leave the base for missions. Due to my position and seniority I was not required to go out on missions.

However, I decided it would not be right to assign others to tasks I would not do myself. I routinely assigned myself to the three types of duties in a convoy, which are the driver, gunner, and truck commander. On May 19, 2009 the security forces of the base had a mission to convoy to the nearby German Air Base in Mazār-i-Sharīf and return. This mission was critical as it was the way we got supplies and provided air transportation. I decided to put my name in as Truck Commander. The Truck Commander is the eyes and ears for the driver. This individual is also responsible for operating all the electronic gear. Although I served as a gunner on a recent mission, I chose to go out again for a personal reason. My wedding anniversary was May 20, and the German Air Base had a nice exchange so I thought I could get a gift for my wife, Cindy. The process of a convoy is fairly simple. You show up at a designated spot on base and are briefed on threat assessments and proper procedures in the event of an emergency. Since my base was small and due to my position, I knew most of the personnel on the base. When I got to the staging point, I noticed three unfamiliar faces. I was curious about why they were on my base so I went over and started a conversation with them. One of the people was Schulte. Our conversation was brief and I don’t think I got her name. The next day, a civilian contractor who I worked with reported that a contactor from his company and an Air Force person died due to a roadside bomb on a road I had traveled on several times. He did not know any other details. Two days later I was watching CNN, saw Schulte’s face, and immediately recognized her as being on my convoy two days earlier. I found out she was visiting my base’s Intel Department so I went to one of my roommates. He told me he had dinner with her the day before she was killed. This hit me hard so I started to research her life. Schulte was from St. Louis, Missouri and raised Jewish. She graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2006. This chance meeting with her reminded me how precious life is and we should cherish every encounter we have with people as important.

JWV’s online Post 77 is named after Schulte and Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Bruckenthal who died in Iraq on April 24, 2004.

Volume 74. Number 2. 2020

By Cara Rinkoff

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is stronger than ever before, and is working hard for all veterans. This is just one part of the message delivered by VA Secretary Robert Wilkie when he addressed members of the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. during its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting on February 14 in Arlington, Virginia.

Wilkie told JWV that ensuring the strength of his department is how he can thank veterans for their service and sacrifice to the country. “We have the highest patient satisfaction rates in our history. 90 percent of our veterans are completly satisfied with the services they get at VA. It is our eternal promise that the promise given to Americans veterans by Mr. Lincoln be kept. That we shall care for those who have borne the battle,” Wilkie added.
The Secretary also talked about privatization concerns. He noted that, “only in Washington, D.C., would a $240 billion budget be cause for concern about privatization.” This budget is the second largest of any agency in the federal government, second only to the Department of Defense.

Norman Rosenshein, Secretary Wilkie, Harvey Weiner (Photograph by Lou Michaels)

Wilkie said the new Mission Act will allow veterans to receive services from the private sector without the need to privatize the VA. He said another benefit of the new law is that veterans are eligible for coverage of their urgent care visits.

Wilkie said he thinks electronic health records will be online in late spring or summer. He hopes these records will keep track of medical history “the minute that young American walks into the military processing station to the minute that American is handed over to the VA.”

By the end of March, Wilkie hopes the VA will present a report to the country about veteran suicide. He said it is time for a national conversation to begin about this important topic. “The United States Army started taking statistics on veteran suicide, on Army suicide, during the administration of Benjamin Harrison in 1892. And yet, we have never had a national conversation about what it means when warriors come back,” Wilkie noted. He added that until there is a national conversation, all investigations of veteran suicide will amount to are more federal reports that no one will read.
Wilkie said he also wanted to bring JWV a message from President Donald Trump in regards to anti-Semitism. Wilkie said Trump is the most forceful opponent of anti-Semitism and added, “I stand with him in standing up for the rights of those of you in this audience, but more importantly for the human rights that we as Americans have to defend every day.”

Wilkie concluded his 20 minute speech by telling JWV, “As long as I am in this office you all have what the British would say, first dibs on me, whatever you need.”

While Wilkie had to leave early to attend a meeting at the White House and did not have time to answer questions from members after his speech, he arrived early in order to greet members individually and take time to pose for pictures.

Volume 74. Number 1. 2020

By Cara Rinkoff

The Jewish War Veterans National Commander Harvey Weiner testified before a joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees on February 26. Weiner decided to deviate from the typical testimony given by our organization’s commander, and instead submitted our legislative priorities in a written document.

For his oral testimony before the committees, Weiner decided to discuss courage. He urged the members of the House and Senate to show courage by standing up for veterans and members of the military. “On behalf of all veterans, past and present, and all service personnel, past and present, I am asking each and every one of you to show courage by doing your job and by doing right, regardless of the political consequences, including the possibility, or even the probability, that you will lose your job by being voted out of office,” Weiner said.

In his testimony Weiner addressed two main areas where legislators must show courage. The first is to make sure military funding is not used to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. The other is for Congress to “take back the war powers that the framers of the Constitution and your own 1973 War Powers Resolution gave you.”

Here is the entirety of Weiner’s oral testimony:
Chairman Moran and Chairman Takano, Ranking Members Tester and Roe, I am Harvey Weiner, a Vietnam War combat veteran and the National Commander of the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A., America’s oldest active continuous veterans’ association. We will be celebrating our 125th anniversary next year. American Jews have fought in all of America’s wars in a proportion greater than their proportion in the general population.
I want to speak to you this afternoon about courage. Members of the armed services will risk his or her life on the battlefield to serve this great nation and to do the job assigned. Hundreds of thousands of American soldiers have given their lives and millions of American soldiers and their families have made other sacrifices in this regard. They had the right stuff and displayed great courage. They took enormous risks because their country called and because it was the right thing to do. On behalf of all veterans, past and present, and all service personnel, past and present, I am asking each and every one of you to show courage by doing your job and by doing right, regardless of the political consequences, including the possibility, or even the probability, that you will lose your job by being voted out of office.

When you, who, implicitly or explicitly, sent us off to war and asked us to do the right thing at the risk of our lives, it is a shanda if you are unwilling to take that risk to do right yourselves, rather than what is politically expedient. Shanda is Yiddish for “shameful.” The risk of losing your job pales in comparison to the risk we take of losing our lives. I was reviewing the John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage winners of the award that is the nation’s preeminent award for elected officials and public servants. For them and for you, it is the Nobel Prize, the Oscar, the Lasker, the Pulitzer. I give you these examples.

Carl Elliott was a Congressman from Alabama for eight consecutive terms from 1949 to 1965. He was a Democrat, but he authored and voted for the National Education Defense Act, which he knew would lead to his removal as a Congressman in 1964. He was right, but he did what was right.
Charles Weltner, also a Democrat, was a Congressman from Georgia who dropped out of his race for a third term rather than seek reelection and be bound by a party loyalty oath to support the candidacy of segregationist Lester Maddox.

Bob Inglis, whom many of you know, is a Republican and was a Congressman from South Carolina. He reversed himself on the issue of climate change because he felt it was the right thing to do. He knew that it would probably mean the demise of his political career and it did.

We, who died, who were wounded, who survived, or who risked our lives in the military to do the right thing because America asked us to, are asking you to do the right thing, merely at risk of losing your jobs.

Do not take funds away from the military, including from their daycare and schools, to build a border wall, because it is politically expedient for you to do so.

In addition, the Constitution, which you swore under oath to uphold, vests the power to declare war solely in the hands of Congress and not in the President, who is solely the Commander in Chief. However, since World War II, Congress, as a practical matter, has ceded its Constitutional responsibility to the President in the semantic guise of so-called “emergencies” and “police actions.” War is too important to be in the hands of one person, and since World War II, the usurping of the war power by both Democratic and Republican presidents has led this nation into disaster after disaster and caused the unnecessary deaths of over a hundred thousand of my comrades-in-arms, my brothers and my sisters. An after-the-fact toothless Congressional resolution is not enough. Take back the war power that the framers of the Constitution and your own 1973 War Powers Resolution gave you.

When Abraham Lincoln was in the Congress, he wrote the following:
“The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress, was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons. Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This our convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us.”

As a cantankerous football coach in my neck of the woods is fond of saying, “Do your job!” Risk your jobs to do the right thing! In the long run, it is not just your constituents that you must face. You must face your children, your grandchildren, your descendants, and history. Also, you must face yourself and your conscience. Become a candidate for the Profiles in Courage award.

We, the veterans of America, do not just ask you to do the right thing despite the political consequences. We demand it, and we are entitled to do so. Thank you.

The written testimony submitted to the committee included JWV priorities of opposition to the privatization of the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as the passage of legislation to reduce the number of veteran suicides, assist homeless veterans, and expand the current eligibility period for those who wish to become members of JWV.

You can find a link to the document Weiner submitted to the committees on our website.

Volume 74. Number 1. 2020

By Larry Jasper

I have previously written about my collaboration with Rabbi Irv Elson of the Jewish Welfare Board (JWB) as part of an effort to reach out to veterans while they are still on active duty. Elson has access to Jewish chaplains and lay leaders around the world. The goal is to use those chaplains and lay leaders to reach active duty service members in order to enhance their connection to the Jewish community through JWV. The challenge is to let these service members know what’s in it for them. I presented a brochure highlighting that focus of my work and presented it to the National Executive Committee in February. My work with Elson and the JWB continues. (My apologies to the Marketing Committee which did not exist when this process began)

So what does this have to do with the title of this article?

Late last year, Membership Committee Chairman Barry Lischinsky sent me a copy of a new quarterly magazine published by the Aleph Institute in Surfside, Florida. Since I did not know about Aleph, I started looking into the group.

The Aleph Institute is a Chabad organization with a branch that works with Orthodox servicemembers as chaplains and lay leaders. (JWB works with all denominations of Judaism) Aleph established Operation Enduring Traditions to service the unique needs of Jewish members of the United States Armed Forces stationed worldwide. Aleph’s military program is the nation’s largest provider of religious and educational materials to Jewish military personnel and their families. They provide prayer books and other religious articles, kosher food and care packages, holiday provisions and services, chaplaincy training, and many other services.

I contacted the Institute and indicated I wanted to explore a partnership with Aleph that would enable both organizations to better serve active duty Jewish service members.

Rabbi Sandy Dresin is the Director of Military Programs for Aleph and Rabbi Elie Estrin is the Military Personnel Liaison for Aleph. Dresin is a retired Army Chaplain, who happened to serve with almost identical dates as I did. We started the same year and he retired three years prior to me. We both served in Vietnam at the same time. Estrin is a USAF Reserve Chaplain.

Aleph held an annual symposium for chaplains and lay leaders in February. They invited me to attend and deliver a speech to their group. Approximately half of those present were already JWV members. I talked to the others about the benefits of JWV, asked them to join, and asked them to talk about us with their fellow service members. I left with three completed membership applications. Estrin and Dresin have agreed to send information about JWV to their members around the world.

Aleph has asked me to return to their symposium next year, at which time I will be able to make a more in-depth presentation on JWV. I will also continue working with Dresin and Estrin on how we can forge a mutually beneficial relationship. The ultimate goal is to provide a continuing connection with the Jewish service member both while on active duty and after leaving military service. I believe JWV, JWB, and Aleph can work together to accomplish this.

You never know what you can do until you try.

Volume 74. Number 1. 2020

By Sheldon Goldberg, Ph.D.

A special cruise tour brings together individuals from World War II allied nations for a trip on the Seine from Paris to Normandy.

I participated in the inaugural cruise as a lecturer in October of 2017. The passengers on this cruise were from the U.S., Great Britain, Israel, and several other countries, but all were Jewish. The trip included visits to the American Military Cemetery in Coleville-sur-Mar, Normandy, Omaha Beach, the Somme battlefield, as well as Rouen and several other picturesque towns along the Seine. One key focus of the cruise was to counter historical anti-Semitic claims that Jews do not fight or, if they do, they serve in the Quartermaster Army as supply clerks, logisticians, lawyers, and doctors, etc., but not combat troops. This cruise highlighted the Jews who served in the armed forces during World Wars I and II, their actions, and their heroism.

The tour company, KTreks & Kosher River Cruises, is co-owned by American David Lawrence, who also served three years in the Israeli Defense Forces, and Londoner Malcolm Green, a long-time executive chef and kosher caterer. They founded the company to provide Jews with a first-class travel experience that meets their religious and spiritual requirements.

The Wiesenthal Center sponsored the inaugural voyage, and I participated due to my position as Docent and Historian at the National Museum of American Jewish Military History. Joining me as a lecturer was David Kraus, the European Operations Director for the tour from Prague. Kraus is a historian of European Jewish life and a researcher at the Jewish Museum of Prague.

Throughout the cruise, Kraus discussed Jewish life in Europe during World War I and the interwar period. I lectured on the participation of American Jewish soldiers in both World War I and II. I also spoke about Jewish Medal of Honor recipients and Jewish military service in the American Civil War.

The company has invited me to participate in its next cruise which will take place from October 22 to October 29. I invite you to join me on this wonderful trip to explore the beautiful Normandy countryside and learn about Jewish life and the role American Jews played in two world wars.
If you are interested in being part of this adventure, contact me at

Volume 74. Number 1. 2020

By John Brady, Flagship Olympia Foundation
Board of Directors President

The year 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The first soldier buried in the Tomb served in World War I. The USS Olympia, a former Navy cruiser, brought the remains of the World War I Unknown Soldier home from Europe. His burial took place at Arlington National Cemetery on November 11, 1921. Rabbi Morris Samuel Lazaron is one of the four chaplains who participated in the service.

Two months after the United States entered World War I in April 1917, Rabbi Lazaron filled out a military registration card. The card, which can be found in the National Archives, notes Lazaron was working as a rabbi in Baltimore, Maryland at the time and supporting his wife, baby, and parents.

Additional information about Rabbi Lazaron can be found on the American Jewish Archives website. Lazaron served as a chaplain in the U.S. Army Officer’s Reserve Corps from 1917 until 1953. He was one of four military chaplains officiating at the burial of the World War I Unknown Soldier in 1921. Rabbi Lazaron died in London, England on June 5, 1979.

The Flagship Olympia Foundation is helping to plan commemoration events for 2021. We have researched Rabbi Lazaron as part of this effort. However, we want to learn more about the men who brought the World War I Unknown Soldier home from Europe. We also want to make sure the families of these service members are invited to commemoration events.

The 1921 USS Olympia crew list is located at the National Archives. We’re comparing the names on this list to information included in the website. Some of the individuals and their families are easier to find because they have distinctive names. Others are not because they have the same names as several others who served during World War I.

The Flagship Olympia Foundation would appreciate the assistance of JWV members in identifying the 1921 USS Olympia crew. An electronic copy of the list is posted on our website. Are any of the men on the list your great-grandfather, grandfather, or great-uncle? If so, do you have photos or diaries about their service aboard the USS Olympia in 1921 that you would be willing to share with us?

Last year, the granddaughter of one of the members of the 1921 crew reached out to us. She shared her grandfather’s story and we now have it on our website. We’d like to do the same with other crew members. They brought home a son, grandson, nephew, and father. His name is known to no one, but his sacrifice is known to all.

Photo: Detroit Publishing Co, P., Hart, E. H., photographer. U.S.S. Olympia. , None. [Between 1895 and 1901] [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

Meet OLYMPIA’s 1921 Crew

Volume 74. Number 1. 2020

By Larry Jasper

Thanks to the Missing in America program, a special internment ceremony on September 26 brought 12 veterans and five spouses of veterans to their final resting place at Sarasota National Cemetery in Florida. The remains of these individuals were unclaimed for as long as 14 years before this ceremony.

More than 400 people attended the ceremony, which included a motorcade of veterans and county police, a flag detail, and an honor guard representing all U.S. military branches.

I was honored to carry the cremains of Pfc. Charles William Livingston, a World War II veteran who passed away in 2011 at the age of 85.
Other members and patrons who represented the JWV Department of Florida at the event included Georgi Jasper, Boris Stern, and Dr. Bill Luria.

The Missing in America program was founded in 2006 to locate, identify, and inter the unclaimed remains of veterans through joint efforts between private, state, and federal groups. Missing in America has identified the cremains of approximately 4,500 veterans out of the 20,000 cremains found so far. In many cases, the cremains belonged to veterans who were homeless or had no next of kin. Their ashes were put in a box and left on a shelf.
The Missing in America Project hopes to identify every forgotten veteran and ensure they are interred with the honor and dignity they deserve.

Volume 73. Number 4. 2019