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 fitrg8tr@verizon.net.

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 Ancestry.com 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, https://www.loc.gov/item/2016818457/.

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

 

By Larry Katz

Veterans Day events were more than just opportunities for barbeques and family get-togethers for Congregation Shaarey Zedek (CSZ) Religious School students. A new program started this year to ensure students remember and honor Jewish veterans.

This joint venture between the CSZ Religious School and the Jewish War Veterans Department of Michigan took place on Sunday, November 18, 2019. The goal of the program is to introduce meaningful interpersonal experiences into the school’s curriculum, allowing students to learn the lessons of history proactively, educating and inspiring students about the sacrifices necessary to protect and preserve the freedoms we enjoy, and building intergenerational connections within the synagogue.

Thirty-seven students attended the three sessions at the CSZ Berman Center for Jewish Education.
In the first session, the veterans and students gathered together in the library. Veterans introduced themselves and shared stories about their military experience. Several brought photographs and other visual materials to show the students.

The second phase of the program consisted of three breakout sessions. Students were matched with veterans in a more personal setting, enabling one-on-one discussions. The veterans tailored each session to the ages of the students.

The third and final phase of this program was a return to the library with the veterans addressing any follow-up questions based on what the students had learned from the veterans and what the veterans had learned from the students.

Future local projects with CSZ and JWV will feature structured dialogue with current and former military service members and their families, field trips to military sites, cemeteries, museums, memorials. and other sites dedicated to the victims of war and genocide, and other proactive events including face-to-face dialogues with people who have devoted their lives to public service as well as those who benefitted from their sacrifice and courage.

Volume 73. Number 4. 2019

By Steve Markman

A small group from Post 587 in Dayton, Ohio flew to Washington D.C. as part of an Honor Flight on September 7, 2019. The five post members joined more than one hundred others on the trip. There were six World War II veterans, 13 who fought in Korea, and the rest served in Vietnam.

Honor Flight is a nationwide program that flies veterans to Washington, D.C. to see their memorials. The trip is free for the veterans, funded solely by private and corporate donations. Our trip was sponsored by Frontier Technology, Inc., a defense contractor with offices around the country.

We left Dayton International Airport at 6:30 a.m. and landed at Reagan National Airport at 8:00 a.m. As we taxied down the runway, fire trucks sprayed a water canon salute over the aircraft. The ground crew lined up next to the plane to wave American flags as we pulled into the gate. More than one hundred others greeted us inside the airport with cheers and more waving flags.

We boarded buses and headed to Arlington National Cemetery along with a police escort to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony. From there, we drove past the Iwo Jima Memorial, then stopped at the Air Force Memorial for lunch. After lunch, we headed to the Lincoln Memorial, and then walked to both the Vietnam and Korean War Memorials. I lost count of how many times visitors on the National Mall came over to welcome us to D.C. and thank us for our service. Our last stop of the day was the National World War II Memorial.

All of us on the trip served in the days before email and text messages. A letter from home handed out during mail call was usually the highlight of the day. During our flight home that night, Honor Flight called out our names and gave us each an envelope stuffed with letters. The letters were from kids and adults who wanted to express their appreciation for our military service. Honor Flight even had our family members write letters to put in those envelopes.

When we landed in Dayton, Honor Flight had one last surprise waiting for us. After getting off the airplane, we were led toward the main lobby of the airport by a group of bagpipers. In the lobby, there were at least a thousand people cheering and waving flags, as well as a band and even an honor guard from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Although we know attitudes toward those who served in the military has changed since the height of the Vietnam War, this experience was still overwhelming.

If you’ve ever thought about going on an Honor Flight trip, I highly recommend it. You’ll have a great day and experience appreciation from your fellow citizens for your service. If you live near an Honor Flight hub, you should go to the airport to help welcome veterans home from their trips. We’ve added that as an activity for our Dayton post members.

Volume 73. Number 4. 2019

By Harvey Weiner, National Commander

Each year the JWV National Commander flies across the pond to participate in a special Remembrance Day ceremony and parade with our British

Linda Weiner, National Commander Harvey Weiner, Ritual Director Mickey Nathanson, his wife, and PNC David Magidson at the Saturday morning services of the West London Synagogue for British Jews.

counterpart organization, AJEX. The trip typically includes a stop in Brussels for a two-day briefing at SHAPE and NATO, but the organizers canceled that stop this year due to a visit by the U.S. Secretary of State.

I still went to the ceremony in London, along with my wife Linda, Past National Commander David Magidson, and his wife Marilyn Mittentag.
The AJEX Annual Remembrance ceremony and parade takes place a week after the annual London Armistice Day parade and celebration. AJEX stands for the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and is a remarkably active organization, considering Great Britain has not been involved in any major wars since World War II. More than 1,000 people marched in the parade, and an equal number of spectators lined the parade route. Considering there are only about 260,000 Jews in all of Great Britain and 158,000 Jews in London, this attendance is noteworthy. It appears all sections of the Jewish community are supportive of AJEX.

The ceremony took place at the Cenotaph near Westminster in the center of London. During the ceremony I laid a wreath of poppies in honor of the U.S. forces who served in all theaters of war. There were also representatives from France and Israel. Linda and Marilyn escorted Renee Salt, a Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz survivor and prominent speaker about the Holocaust.

Prior to the parade, we attended a reception at the Institution of Civil Engineers headquarters, where I spread JWV’s message to everyone at each of the more than 20 tables. After the parade, the new AJEX commander hosted a dinner.

The day after the parade we toured the new American Embassy with a three-person briefing team. The leader was a Jewish Department of Defense Attaché who served as a Rear Admiral. I hope he and another one of the Jewish briefers will join JWV.

With the assistance of new JWV National Chaplain Rabbi Mark Winer, two new events were added to the London trip. The day before the parade we attended services at the West London Synagogue of British Jews, the largest Reform synagogue in Great Britain. Winer served as the rabbi there for more than a decade before his retirement.

The morning of our visit to the Embassy, we met with the David Sumberg at the Jewish Museum of London. David is a Jewish ex-member of Parliament and shared his knowledge about the status of Jews in Great Britain.

This trip is helpful in spreading the messages of JWV and enhancing relationships with Jewish veterans from other nations. I hope to complete the Brussels part of the excursion at a future date.

Volume 73. Number 4. 2019

By Deborah Josefson

A monument and square named after a Jewish American soldier lies in the town of Petange at the southwest border of the tiny country of Luxembourg, where France and Belgium meet. This soldier was my great-uncle, 2nd Lt. Hyman Josefson. He was the first American soldier to die for the liberation of Luxembourg. For 45 years he was the quintessential Unknown Soldier, but for the people of Luxembourg, he represented the ultimate sacrifice of American GIs.

Procession to Hyman Josefson Square led by Duke Henri (front center) flanked by dignitaries including Petange Mayor Pierre Molina and U.S. Ambassador J. Randolph Evans.

The people of Luxembourg commemorate their liberation from the Nazis and the sacrifice of Josefson and other American GI’s each year. Every five years, the celebrations include visits from the country’s Grand Duke, the U.S. Ambassador, and other dignitaries. As they did this September 9, the officials visit Hyman Josefson Square to lay wreaths in honor of the American troops. The liberation festivities continue with a week of pro-American parades, displays of vintage World War II military vehicles, American-style barbeques and Rockabilly music festivals.

Josefson was a first generation American and one of 550,000 GI Jews. These Jewish American men felt their service in World War II was both an act of patriotism and a fight against Hitler for the survival of their brethren.

An accomplished lawyer and engineer, Josefson was already 32 when he voluntarily enlisted just six weeks after Pearl Harbor.
Josefson was born in South Fallsburg, New York in 1909 to Harry and Lena Josefson of Iasi, Romania. He entered Cornell University at age 15 on an academic scholarship with a perfect score on the state scholarship exam. After graduating in 1929 with a civil engineering degree, Josefson stayed at Cornell for another two years to receive his law degree.

As a young lawyer, he argued before the New York State Supreme Court and Court of Appeals on matters of interstate commerce and transportation.
When the U.S. entered World War II, Josefson enlisted in the Army. He trained at Fort Knox and joined the 5th Armored Division’s 85th Calvary Reconnaissance Squadron. After two years of training in the U.S., his unit landed at Utah Beach on July 24, 1944. They marched through Normandy and Northern France, reaching the Belgian border by September 2.

Hyman Josefson

Luxembourg’s Prince Felix and Crown Prince Jean joined the allies, and by September 7 they were fighting alongside the 5th Armored Division, gearing up for a return to their homeland.

As a platoon leader and car commander of the 85th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, Josefson was an advance man. His mission was to find, fix, and fight. In other words, to ascertain the strength and disposition of the enemy, remove obstacles, and clear the way for further combat.
On September 9, 1944, by mid-day, Josefson’s armored M8 Greyhound Patrol car is the first to breach the Belgian border and enter Petange, Luxembourg. But the celebratory air is severely dampened when a hidden Wehrmacht cannon hits Josefson’s Greyhound just as it approaches a flour mill. Josefson is killed, and three others in his car were wounded.

Gunner Cyril Mayrose, technical sergeant and driver Burt Magee, and radio operator John Mitchell escaped the car, which continued to burn for days.
The crowd that saw it happen erected a makeshift memorial near the flour mill.

Meanwhile, the Americans pushed on and liberated Luxembourg City on September 10, returning Prince Felix and Prince Jean to the Grand Duchy.
In 1947, a permanent monument replaced the makeshift memorial. The inscription honored the memory of the unknown American soldier who died for the liberation of Luxembourg.

In 1989, Mayrose told the city that their unknown soldier was Josefson, which lead the city to change the name of the area by the monument to Hyman Josefson Square.

75 years later in Luxembourg, World War II is not forgotten, Americans are warmly received, and the legacy of Hyman Josefson lives on.

Volume 73. Number 3. 2019

By Cara Rinkoff

JWV Member Allan Silverberg biked 60 miles in just one day to honor the memory of those who died in the Holocaust. The 75-year-old Silverberg

From left, Unknown, Krakow JCC Executive Director Jonathan Ornstein, and Allan Silverberg.

took part in the 5th annual Ride for the Living in Poland on June 28, which is sponsored by the Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Krakow. A total of 250 cyclists rode their bikes from Auschwitz to the Krakow JCC.

“We started in the morning and then finished in the evening, and that evening was also very eventful. They had about 700 people at a Shabbat dinner,” Silverberg said. According to the Krakow JCC, each year the dinner serves as the largest gathering of Jews on Shabbat in the city since before World War II.

Silverberg found out about the ride from the JCC director, whom he met seven years ago during his first trip to Poland. Silverberg said he has never done anything like this ride before. “I do bike, but never that far… the most I’ve ever done is about 45, maybe 48, but never 60 [miles].”

Silverberg said he received support from his local community, as well as people he had never met before. “Some people contributed just by wishing me good luck, and some people contributed by being very generous donors. I raised almost $4,100.”

Bernard Offen is one of the riders Silverberg met in Poland. Silverberg said Offen walked from Auschwitz to Krakow when the camp was liberated. This is the second year the 90-year-old has participated in the Ride for the Living.

Silverberg chose to participate in this event because he wanted to visit the hometown of his parents. Stopnica is approximately one hour from Krakow. Silverberg said nearly all traces of Jewish life in that town were erased during the war and in the years after. “I wanted to see something that I was going to be able to relate to, like maybe even see a cemetery,” Silverberg said. “When I got there, we couldn’t find the cemetery itself. We even asked an elderly taxi driver there and he didn’t even know anything about any Jewish history… at least he wasn’t, wouldn’t tell us about that.”

Silverberg also participated in the ride because of his general interest in the Holocaust. He runs Holocaust education programs which had 15,000 attendees over the past two years.

If you are interested in participating in next year’s Ride for the Living, you can find more information on the website, www.ridefortheliving.org.

Volume 73. Number 3. 2019

By Harvey Weiner,
Former JWV National Judge Advocate

here is an old legal adage that bad cases make bad law. It was clear from the start that filing a lawsuit to remove the 40-foot World War I memorial cross in Bladensburg, Maryland was the wrong case at the wrong time. Nevertheless, the American Humanist Association (AHA) brought the case without input from the JWV. If the very conservative U.S. Supreme Court took the case, it was likely the Court would either ignore it or overturn decades of favorable legal precedents, which were mainly achieved by the JWV.

Once the Supreme Court took the case, JWV had no choice but to submit an amicus (friend of court) brief to have its voice heard. There were seven other amicus briefs in addition to the ones filed by the AHA and JWV.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which had represented the JWV in prior war memorial cross cases declined to participate. The law firm of Jenner & Block and the Chicago Law School stepped in to help the JWV.

The JWV brief mentioned that Jewish-Americans had served in all of America’s wars and through the Vietnam War, served in greater numbers than their proportion in the general population, that JWV is the country’s oldest active veterans service organization, that approximately 250,000 Jewish-Americans served in World War I, and that 3,500 Jewish-Americans died in that war. The case was argued on February 27, 2019. That morning, the JWV National Judge Advocate spoke at the Honor Them All rally in front of the courthouse. During arguments, Justice Brett Kavanaugh referenced the JWV amicus brief in one of his questions, which is highly unusual.

On June 20, 2019 the Supreme Court issued its decision which, as expected, allows the cross to remain in place. The majority opinion, concurring opinion, and dissenting opinion all mentioned the JWV amicus brief.

This case helped publicize JWV’s purpose of affirming Jewish-American presence in all of America’s wars.

Both the majority and the dissent quoted from John McCrae’s famous World War I poem “In Flanders Fields,” the first stanza of which is as follows:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt drawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

After the SCOTUS decision, a revised version might read as follows:

In Bladensburg, a cross did stand
Between three streets on public land
That honor those killed in World War One,
Who, through Christ, will live anon
Though not so those who don’t believe.
We are the Court. So do not grieve.
We worked. Seven opinions did we weave.
The cross may stand, though it offends,
In Bladensburg

Volume 73. Number 3. 2019