Jersey Shore Post 125 represented the JWV with a tent at the 29th annual Oceanfest celebration on July Fourth in Long Branch, New Jersey. An estimated 225,000 people attended the event, and many stopped by Post 125’s tent to express their appreciation for the service of Jewish veterans. More than 20 volunteers manned the tent that day, including officers from National, the Department of New Jersey, and the Ladies Auxiliary. Oceanfest served as the season finale for Post 125’s year of activities.

The Post decided not to brave the cold weather, and moved its traditional Veterans Day Poppy Drive to Labor Day in 2018. Dedicated volunteers sold poppies at multiple locations, exceeding fundraising expectations. The money raised from the sales allows Post 125 to continue supporting programs and assisting the residents of New Jersey veterans’ homes.

Post activities during the fall months honored surviving World War II veterans with speakers from both Monmouth County’s active veteran services office and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. On Veterans Day, Post 125’s Gerald Levine, who serves as the Honorary Commander of the Department of New Jersey, lead a 21-bell salute in the city of Long Branch, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the World War I armistice. That ceremony also included a reading of the names of the victims from the shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue.

Following a winter slowdown, Post 125 hosted another World War II veterans’ event and ran an extremely successful Memorial Day poppy drive. The Post elected Levine as Honorary Post Commander, while the Department of New Jersey named Post 125 as its Post of the Year, and further honored Levine as its Person of the Year.

Volume 73. Number 3. 2019

By Gary Ginsburg, Commander, Post 41-NY

Consul General of Israel Dani Dayan and JWV Post 41 Commander Gary Ginsburg

Nearly 1,000 refugees and Holocaust survivors arrived in the United States’ only refugee camp on August 5, 1944. Exactly 75 years later, 200 people gathered to remember them at The Safe Haven Museum, which is located at the site of the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter in Oswego, New York. Among the crowd were 19 of those refugees, as well as their families, friends, and community leaders.

The Consul General of Israel in New York, Dani Dayan, was just one of the many speakers at the event. Dayan expressed his “most sincere thanks and appreciation to the people of this small city with a population of about 18,000 – Oswego, New York for opening the space of Fort Ontario and their hearts to these Holocaust survivors during 1944, which was a most difficult and violent time in history.”

While many of us think of Oswego, New York in terms of only three things – a State University of New York college campus, a nuclear power plant, and severe winter weather – the Safe Haven Museum and story of the Fort Ontario Refugee Shelter is both an extraordinary and positive chapter in both Jewish and American history.

Volume 73. Number 3. 2019

By Ben Kane

On August 19th, a Jewish war veteran named Neil Schaffer passed away in a Los Angeles hotel room. He had no known family, only a few friends, no job, and no home to call his own. In March of this year, the JWV was made aware of his passing, and sought to recognize him in a manner that befit a member of the tribe. JWV-CA Chaplain Dov Cohen and Department Commander Greg Lee led the efforts to memorialize Mr. Schaffer.

Chaplain Dov Cohen is the National Cemetery Foundation President, as well as the JWV National Chairman of the “End Homelessness Now” program. He helped put together several memorial programs in Mr. Schaffer’s memory—one at the Los Angeles City Hall, one at the Los Angeles National Cemetery, and ensured that he was honored at the Annual Gala at the Reagan Presidential Library. Mr. Schaffer’s memorial service at the National Cemetery was the first to be conducted in the remodeled Bob Hope Chapel and served as the start of a new program with the goal of memorializing deceased homeless veterans. The National Cemetery is currently working to provide military funerals to deceased veterans providing buglers, flag folding ceremonies, and all the other crucial parts of the military funeral before laying them to rest in a recently constructed columbarium.

The JWV department of California is very active in the fight against veteran homelessness. Posts in the area are working for the sake of veterans with groups like the American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, VFW, and more. From job and benefits assistance to working behind the scenes on pro-veteran legislation, these partnerships help ensure that veterans of all faiths have a higher chance of getting the recognition, respect, and assistance they deserve. The JWV is honored to do its part in serving the American Jewish veteran community, throughout their years of service and afterwards.

Volume 73. Number 2. 2019

By Harvey Weiner, JWV National Judge Advocate

Sometime around 1982 during the Galilee War, my wife and I were asked to host a dinner for a visiting retired Israel Defense Force (IDF) general, who was in the United States recruiting civilian volunteers to come to Israel to help the IDF in support positions. We had a pleasant evening with Dr. Aharon Davidi (z”l), the former head of the IDF Paratroopers and Infantry Corps. Over cognac, about which the general was an expert, I somehow promised him that I would eventually participate in his program if it came to fruition. As a result of his efforts, in the spring of 1983, “Sar-El”, —the National Project for Volunteers for Israel – was founded as a non-profit, non-political organization. “Sar-El” is the Hebrew acronym meaning “Service for Israel.”

Each year since then, volunteers, including those in their 70’s and 80’s, work on non-combat IDF bases throughout Israel doing support work for a one to three week period. Although such volunteers are civilians and not members of the IDF, they are led by madrachot, who are IDF soldiers. Volunteers work on a Sunday through Thursday schedule doing work such as quartermaster/supply work, base maintenance, maintenance and equipment repair, kitchen work or construction. Weekends are for traveling, sightseeing and visiting family and friends. There are frequent interesting lectures and question and answer sessions with Sar-El and military personnel. Of course, you work side by side with IDF soldiers, many of whom are now proud owners of Boston Red Sox pens. Alas, there are no JWV pens!

The free facilities are spartan and not a little nostalgic. Volunteers live in communal barracks in sleeping bags on cots with communal bathrooms. There is no central heat or air conditioning. Hot water is at a premium. Men and women are housed separately, including married couples. The mess hall food, however, is filling.

In December, 2015, over thirty-three years after I had rashly made a promise to the General, I spent two weeks for Sar-El in an army base in central Israel. Better late than never. We were a group of fourteen and worked very hard collecting, inventorying and crating military supplies, particularly tank maintenance equipment and parts. One of our speakers told us that Sar-El volunteers have unusually high productivity, presumably because they are motivated and because they only have a very short time commitment. There is both an initiation ceremony, during which the Sar-El epaulettes are placed on you, and a graduation ceremony, during which you receive the Sar-El pin and a Certificate of Appreciation.

The makeup of Sar-El volunteers is diverse. About 4,000 volunteers come per year and in 2014 they were from 51 countries. Tellingly, in 2014, France had the most volunteers with 1,161 with the U.S. having 938. France, of late, has the most people making Aliyah. In our group of fourteen, there were volunteers from Canada, England and South Africa, as well as the United States, and we were joined for a brief period on our bus by a small group from Hungary and Holland. There was also a Christian in our group, who is an avid supporter of Israel. Most of my Sar-El volunteer group were repeats and one woman in our group was there for the 13th time. The group bonded and there was a great sense of camaraderie and friendship, as well as a lot of laughs.

One day, the group went north of Haifa on a tour of the Ghetto Fighters’ Museum and there became the first to plant yellow daffodils in Israel as part of Project Daffodil, whereby it is intended to plant 1.5 million daffodils throughout the world in memory of the 1.5 million children who were murdered in the Shoah. (See daffodilproject.net )

There are no upper age limits for volunteers, and there were two volunteers in our group in their 70’s, but one should be relatively fit and healthy and willing to work. I was given one of the daily honors of raising the Israeli flag on the Israeli base followed by the singing of Hatikvah. My ancestors (and General Davidi) would have kvelled. (Many of the facts above are taken from the Sar-El website).

You can tie in a Sar-El experience prior to the JWV Israel trip, as did Membership Chair Barry Lischinsky, or you can do it independently, as I did and as National Quartermaster Nelson Mellitz did.

Volume 73. Number 1. 2019

Hundreds turned out for a vigil Tuesday night at the Hebrew Cemetery of Fall River where 59 gravestones were vandalized with hateful, anti-Semitic messages. The vigil attendees stood shoulder to shoulder, sending a clear message to the vandals who scrawled anti-Semitic graffiti on the headstones and any anti-Semites considering following their footsteps. Hateful phrases on the headstones such as “expel the Jews,” along with other anti-Semitic words and phrases, should be condemned as unacceptable.

The message for the individual(s) who wrote these hateful words are simple, “We will not be expelled, and we will not remain silent,” Jeff Weissman, Jewish War Veterans member and cemetery caretaker, also spoke at the event. Additionally, Junior Vice Commander Stephan Bloch; Department Commander Sanford Gorodetsky; Judge Advocate Howard Lipsey; and Senior Vice Commander Ira Fleisher were in attendance at the vigil, as well as officers of the department of Rhode Island. We are proud of these members of the JWV who attended the vigil, and to all who lend their support in a line of solidarity against anti-Semitic hate.

Volume 73. Number 1. 2019

Members of the Jewish War Veterans joined with the First Reformed Church of Schenectady and nearly 100 area attendees in the Clark Poling Chapel to honor Rev. Charlene Robbins as the 54th recipient of the Four Chaplains’ Brotherhood Award Sunday, February 24.

Albany Post 105 of the Jewish War Veterans has led the effort to recognize a local member of the community since 1966 in honor of the value of selfless service of the Four Chaplains.

Clark Poling was one of the Four Chaplains lost in the North Atlantic in February 1943 during the sinking of the troopship Dorchester. Poling had served the faith community at the First Reformed Church before entering military service as an Army Chaplain in World War II.

Charlene has led a life of service to others in various forms since her ordination on September 9, 2001 from the Holistic Studies Seminary Institute in Albany, first ministering to and comforting first responders and aid workers following the terror attacks at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

“Charlene inspires us in her devotion to others, and in particular her focus on serving veteran organizations,” said Fred Altman, JWV Albany Post 105 Commander.

Robbins is also a Gold Star Mother to Army Staff Sergeant Thomas Robbins, who died in action in Iraq on February 9, 2004, attempting to save the lives of his soldiers during a mortar explosion.

It was the intersection of these two elements of her life that inspire Charlene’s efforts today.
“All my life, I just wanted to be that person to help others,” Robbins said.

She was recognized in 2005 as a grand marshal by the City of Albany Memorial Day Parade, participating on her son’s behalf. Her introduction to the wider veterans’ community 14 years ago sparked her action and support, bringing spiritual leadership, empathy, comfort and peacefulness to the many veteran and civic events she supports.

She is Chaplain of the Tri-County Council of Vietnam Era Veterans as well chaplain for countless community programs, including the Albany County Honor-A-Veteran program, the Albany County Honor-A-Living Veteran program, Albany High School Junior ROTC, the City of Albany Memorial and Veterans Day parades and the Town of Colonie annual Memorial Day Service.

“As a Gold Star Mother, Charlene stands among our veterans as a cherished and honored family member. Her sympathy and enthusiasm to give back to the many veteran groups and causes is a shining example of the commitment to others that the Four Chaplains gave their lives for.”

The Four Chaplains Brotherhood Award exists to further the cause of “unity without uniformity” by encouraging goodwill and cooperation among all people. The non-denominational award honors people whose deeds symbolize the legacy of the Four Chaplains.

“Today’s honoree, in addition to being called Reverend, has devoted her life’s work and passion in a manner that exemplifies the exceptional character of the Four Chaplains,” Altman said.

“When you read the story of these Four Chaplains, it really makes you take pause, to reflect on those values that come to the front in difficult times,” said Congressman Paul Tonko.

Tonko presented Robbins with a proclamation, prepared by himself and Congressman Antonio Delgado, representing the region and was joined by a litany of elected officials, including New York State Senator James Tedisco, Assembly representative John McDonald, City of Albany Treasurer Darius Shahinfar, and New York State Division of Veterans Affairs Deputy Director Jason Chakot.

All joined in the praise of Robbins’ presence and support to the veterans’ community with state and local proclamations, including the City of Albany declaring February 24 as Charlene Robbins Day.

The vision of the Four Chaplains Award is to impart the principles of selfless service to humanity without regard to race, creed, ethnicity, or religious beliefs.

“I thank and commend the Jewish War Veterans for bringing us together each year for this event, to retell the tale and honor those in our community who live up to the ideals of those Four Chaplains,” Tonko said.

First held in 1966, the Jewish War Veterans of the Capital District have recognized civic leaders, community organizers and issue advocates, educators, healthcare providers and clergy for their humanitarian efforts that convey the spirit of the Four Chaplains.

The Jewish War Veterans have posts in Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga Springs. For more information or membership, visit www.jwv.org.

Volume 73. Number 1. 2019

By PNC Robert Pickard, MD

The Jewish War Veterans Legacy Program seeks to ensure the permanence of L’Dor V’Dor, from generation to generation. JWV has a long history of protecting veterans’ benefits, promoting community, ensuring our armed forces may serve free of bigotry and prejudice, and preserving the Jewish American military legacy. We need your help to ensure that JWV’s mission continues long into the future.

If statistics are correct, there are approximately 13 million Jews in the world. That works out to about .2% of the world’s population. Jews make up only 1.7% of America’s population and it is no secret that the number of Jewish War Veterans is a tiny fraction of that small number. We cannot rely solely on membership dues to sustain our organization. You can ensure the survival of JWV’s legacy through your estate plan at no liftetime cost to you.

Many of today’s American Jewish service men and women come from families in which fathers, brothers, sisters, and mothers have served and still serve. There is a proud family tradition of serving in uniform for Jews in America. We are part of a proud legacy, L’Dor V’Dor.

My father served in WWII. When the war in Vietnam heated up, I told my father I planned to accept my commission as a medical officer in the U.S. Air Force. He was proud of his service as an active duty Army soldier. I am honored to continue my service, through the U.S. Army, to this day.

We need you and your loved ones to help us expand our Legacy Program to Jews on active duty, to those who already served, and to Jews who didn’t wear the uniform but are proud of the service of their families and friends.
We propose that you include the JWV U.S.A. Foundation in your estate plan, so that we can continue our proud history of service to our active duty service members, veterans, and their families. Any amount, no matter how large or small, will help us continue our mission and to always be able to say proudly to Jew and non-Jew alike,“JEWS SERVE.”

Volume 73. Number 1. 2019

Cub Scout Pack 210 proudly display their new Scout Pack charter. The charter is the first Shomer Shabbat/Kosher Cub Scout Family Pack in the nation.

By Stephen Troy, Post 210-AZ

December 2, 2018 was a very special day for the Jewish Community in Phoenix as the first Shomer Shabbat / Kosher Cub Scout Family Pack in the nation was chartered. A Family Pack is a new concept in scouting where both boys and girls are in the same pack and can earn the same awards, however in our pack they are in separate dens.

The Ceremony was held at Beth El Congregation in Phoenix. Many scouting executives of the Grand Canyon Council of the Scouts of America were in attendance.

The ceremony began with Cubmaster Gavi Tabor welcoming everyone and having the Cub Scouts lead in the Pledge Allegiance to the Flag, the Scout Oath and the Scout Law. Herb Cohn, from the Catalina Council Jewish Committee on Scouting in Tucson, gave the opening prayer. This was the first day of Chanukah and Bennett Cooper, the Ritual Vice President of Beth El, with the assistance of Andy Price, the new scout executive for the Grand Canyon Council, lit the first candle for the beginning of the holiday

Fernando Gomez, executive with the Central District Scouts of America, presented Anita Gettleson, Chair of the Grand Canyon Council Jewish Committee on Scouting, with an award for founding the new Cub Pack.

After that, Shari Judah, the Cub Pack advancement chair, presented the Bobcat Award to several of the Scouts.

Andy Price, the new scout executive for the Grand canyon Council of Phoenix, presented Major Steven Troy of JWV Post 210 and the chartered organization representative of the Pack with the official charter.

After the ceremony the Scout project for the night was to make Menorahs.

Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018

Post 243 at the Children’s Hospital.

by Greg Woodfield

On the wall of David Magidson’s home study is a framed photo. It was taken in Washington DC and David is standing in a group with Barack Obama. The picture is one of a number on quiet display and there is a humble pride in the way David singles it out. Yet it is not vanity from being photographed next to a two-term sitting president at the nation’s capital that means so much to him. It is the reason that he was there that is crucial. He is representing Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America. David explains, “Every year we go to Congress for a week, and we talk about veterans and we talk about Israel. And we get stuff done. That is a measure of the regard in which the organization is held.”

This past president of Temple Judea is passionate about his continued role as a national officer in the organization. While JWV has a distinguished history, David is still fighting to correct erroneous perceptions that linger about the Jewish contribution to the military. According to David, “It remains crucial to let everyone know that Jews have served the United States honorably and courageously and continue to do so.”

David, who spent a year in Madrid studying Spanish before his Army service, speaks with humor and nostalgia about his introduction to the military in 1967. After being commissioned, he was posted to the Miami field office of the 111th Military Intelligence Group as an operations officer. Upon leaving the Army, David stayed in Miami and graduated in law to add to his undergraduate degree in Spanish from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Thus, his involvement with the Jewish War Veterans also began. He joined Coral Gables post 243, rising to become post commander, then National Judge Advocate followed by in 2005 by the top job of National Commander.

More than half a million Jews served in World War II, and David recognizes this figure might be a surprise even to Jewish people. To him, it is perception influencing reality. The perception even within our own communities that Jews have traditionally sought non-military roles in life. And the reality is that Jews served here as early as the American Revolutionary War. David cites three significant victories accomplished by JWV in recent years. He explains that “First there was no GI Bill after Vietnam and we played a significant part in getting it reintroduced. After, we had a Congress bill passed in which we got the President and the Defense Department to revisit all the Jewish servicemembers who won the Distinguished Service Cross, but not the Medal of Honor. We believed many didn’t get the higher honor because of anti-Semitism. Many were upgraded and now we have 17 Medal of Honor recipients.”

JWV’s latest battle felt particularly painful on an emotional level. Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, claimed American Jews never send their children to fight for their country. Her comments in November last year drew withering criticism in the United States. And a hasty apology left out Jewish Americans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, further inflaming the situation. David was one of the past JWV national commanders to sign a letter to Ron Dermer, Israeli ambassador to the U.S. demanding Ms Hotovely apologize directly to Jewish veterans of all conflicts. This she did. That home truth was illustrated following David’s powerful words at the Friday night Shabbat service before Memorial Day this year, which was dedicated to veterans.

After he spoke, a haunting slideshow of the 58 Jewish servicemembers who gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan emphasized the commitment and sacrifice. They were people, not statistics. According to David, “After I spoke, Rabbi Jonathan Fisch asked all those who had served in the military to stand up. People stood. He then asked those who had brothers or sisters or father or mothers who served to stand up. And the number of people on their feet grew and grew. We had nearly three quarters of the congregation standing up.”

Closer to home, David’s son Ben was an intelligence officer attached to an infantry battalion, serving 15 months in Afghanistan. David recalls: ‘I remember when Ben finally came back and for some reason I’m looking through his duffel bag. And I say “what’s this?” He says casually, “It’s the Bronze Star”. I say, “I never knew”.’

Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018

Post 210 in parade

By Steven Troy, Post 210 Adjunct

Several members of Scottsdale Post 210 spent many hours on Friday November 9 and Sunday November 11, in front of 5 FRY’S  food stores collecting for Veterans organizations that they support, to include The Arizona State Veterans Home in Phoenix, Packages from Home, the National Cemetery in Phoenix and others. It was a successful weekend of the generosity from FRY’S patrons.  Some of the Post members that collected were Commander Rochel Hayman, Michael & Ahuva Chambers, Steven Troy, Juli Altman & David Woodland, Jonathan Sorrell & Millie Rogowin.  See pictures 1,2,3.

Another venture of Scottsdale Post 210 of the Jewish War Veterans was to Charter Cub Scout Pack 210.  On Sunday night November 12, members of the Jewish Cub Scout Pack 210 attended an American Flag Retirement Ceremony at North Mountain Park, Yavapai Ramada.  In addition to many Cub Scouts and older Scouts there were representatives from both The Grand Canyon Council and the Central District of the Scouts of America.  After several speeches Phoenix Councilwoman Debra Stark presented the first folded flags to be retired to the Scouts from Pack 210.  Troop 41 and Troop 329 then continued to retire more than 100 flags.  During the event, a bugler played.  Only cloth flags were retired.

According to the U.S. Flag Code:  The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning. 

The Cub Scouts that attended learned the proper way to fold the flag and to retire it.  This was a valuable ceremony that not many get to observe.

The last event, of the weekend, that Scottsdale Post 210 and Cub Scout Pack 210 participated in was in the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade in downtown Phoenix on November 12th.   The parade this year had Loretta Swit as its Celebrity Grand Marshal along with Eight Veteran Grand Marshals, representing each era of military service from World War II to present day.  The Post and pack were fortunate to partner with the Arizona Military Vehicle Collectors Club and ride in two of their vehicles. A WWII Jeep and a 5-ton troop carrier with no top.  The parade route took us through the streets crowded with cheering people.  The Scouts and veterans waved at all and had a ride to remember.    See pictures 8, 9, 10.

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