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 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 Medal, 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”.’

 

 

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.

 

Sheila doing the pledge with Allentown Jewish Day School.

By Ben Kane, Programs Assistant

Post Commander Sheila Berg of Lehigh Valley Post 239 is no stranger to the JWV and its community outreach programs. Sheila serves not just as a Project Maggid speaker, but also as JWV’s Chairwoman of the Women in the Military Committee and has previously served as an NEC for the Department of Pennsylvania. Recently, Sheila was a participant in a Veterans Day ceremony at the Allentown Jewish Day School, where she shared her story with the students.

Sheila with the 7th Grade group.

Retired Senior Master Sergeant Sheila Berg, originally from Westbury, Long Island, joined the United States Air Force reserves in 1980 because she wanted to serve our country and sought a challenge.  For 14 years, she served as a jet-engine mechanic in and around Dover Air Force Base.  She also deployed to Iraq during the Gulf War.  After 14 years as a jet engine mechanic, Berg became 1st Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) of Family Readiness for the Reserves at Dover and was called up to Active Duty for 3 years.  In 2009, SMSG (ret) Sheila Berg decided to hang up her hat from the military, and she decided to give her experience and expertise to JWV and the Jewish community.

During this Veterans Day, she first joined the Middle School students of Allentown Jewish Day School for a flag raising ceremony, and following that, she gave a talk to the students at an assembly.  Several guests, high ranking military personnel and representatives joined her for this talk, including Rabbi Lieutenant Commander Seth Phillips, State Representative Michael Schlossberg, Naval Commander Sean Boyle, Captain and Jewish Day School (JDS) parent Kristen Johnson, and JDS teacher and IDF veteran Merav Wirthiem.

“It was an educational and interesting assembly, with a great deal of wisdom imparted to the students,” said Sheila.   The assembly concluded with Rabbi Lieutenant Commander (Ret.) Seth Phillips remarking that “people in uniform are the most peace loving of all, because we know the cost.  We don’t long for a fight.  We wish we all could live in Shalom”.

Speakers, like Sheila, go out into Jewish communities through JWV’s Project Maggid storyteller program.  To date. it has proven itself to be a very popular program with over 100 speakers telling stories of Jewish veterans in 2018.   Any veteran interested in being a Project Maggid speaker is invited to reach out to JWV National Headquarters and ask how you can become one.

 

Post 373 Members with JROTC Group

By Larry Jasper, Post 373 Commander

Congregation Beth Am (Tampa) hosted about 200 teens from around Florida for the annual Hatikva Kallah on Veteran’s Day weekend.  Post 373 was asked to present the colors as the youth group chose to honor veterans during the weekend.

The following morning we were requested to present the colors at Congregation Rodeph Shalom (Tampa) where all veterans were honored on the Bima and asked to briefly speak about their service or the service of a family member.  Over 50 congregants came up for this honor.  As it was Shabbat, not photos were available.

On Sunday, Veterans Day, the post did our collections in front of 7 stores in the Tampa area.  Members of the Alonzo High School JROTC assisted us (see photo below).  The funds raised are used to support the disabled veterans at the James A. Haley VA Hospital in Tampa.  For those who are ambulatory (all in wheel chairs), the post provides monthly outings to lunch at local restaurants, trips to Tampa Ray’s baseball games, Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey games, and other local events.  We provide comfort items and in-house entertainment for those veterans who are confined due to serious spinal injuries.

Post 373 Members with Beth Am Youth Group.

After our collections we were invited by the Tampa JCC & Federation to once again present the colors, this time during their annual Jewish Book Festival event.  We were treated to a presentation by the author, Dick Berman, of his book The Machalniks.  This is a story of the birth of the Israeli Air Force.   American veteran WWII pilots and philanthropists made it possible to get aircraft, pilots, and armament to Israel and turn the tide of possible annihilation when the neighboring Arab nations attacked the new State of Israel on May 15, 1948.

The following Sunday, November 18th, we had our monthly meeting and after the meeting we went to Congregation Schaarai Zedek (Tampa) where the annual 8 Over 80 event was held.  Jewish organizations in the Tampa area are able to nominate individuals who are over 80 and have made significant contributions to the Jewish Community.  This event is sponsored by the Weinberg Village, a senior home owned and operated by the Tampa JCC and Federation.  They select 8 people from the nominees and this year our own Past Commander, Jack Rudowsky, was chosen to be honored.

A few days later, our post took disabled veterans from the VA hospital to lunch at Sonny’s Bar B Q.  (See photos below).  We are allowed to take photos of the veterans with their permission but we are prohibited from using their names.  During the lunch, one of the WWII vets asked me if I knew about the Ritchie Boys from WWII.  I told him I did not but I would check up on the reference.  What I found was that there was a secretive group during the war, about 2,200 of whom were Jews who escaped Nazi Germany and volunteered to go back to Europe to spy on, capture, and interrogate the Nazi prisoners.  They had an incredible advantage as they knew the culture, language, and terrain.  There is a book written about them titled Sons and Soldiers, the untold story of the Jews who escaped the Nazis and returned with the U. S. Army to fight Hitler.  An incredible story!

December 6th is Jewish Heritage Night at the Amalie Arena where the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team will play the Boston Bruins.  The local Chabad will be doing a Chanukah candle lighting and our Post 373 will present the colors on the ice at the start of the game.

As you can see, for post 373, Veterans Day never ends.

By Steve Krant, Post 256 Commander

Maury Schermann, a 95-year old Army Air Corps veteran of World War II and a long-time member of Dallas Post 256, was honored in a surprise ceremony at his favorite location of the Original Pancake House restaurant chain on Veteran’s Day weekend. Mark Davis Bailey, co-owner of the eight-location DFW group, presented Maury with a Stars & Stripes-themed quilt hand-crafted by his mother Betty.

Maury & Betty

“Mr. Schermann has been more of a blessing to [our] team and guests than we could ever be to him. He won’t even let us buy his meal,” said Bailey. “His upbeat outlook, friendly personality and determination to keep serving inspires us all.” Bailey noted that over 12+ years as an OPH regular, Schermann has raised a great deal of money to help provide aid to American veterans. He is estimated to have raised about $100,000 in support of JWV’s efforts benefitting local hospitalized and homeless veterans. The money used goes to benefits for veterans like holiday visits and gift bags, special occasion meal events, and VA facility upgrades such as recreation and therapy room equipment.

Schermann’s devotion to all things “veteran” and his warm personality have endeared him to customers of the Original Pancake House, as well as to the management team. He’s become an honorary member of the Bailey family, and regular patrons of the establishment often ask about Maury if he’s not seated at his customary table near the entrance, generally with a JWV donation bucket close by.

JWV Post #625 members with the newly dedicated sign honoring the life memory and sacrifice of Private Herman Siegel.

By Ron Markowitz & Marian Schwartz, Post 625

POUGHKEEPSIE N.Y. – A sign honoring Pvt. Herman Siegel was dedicated on the corner of Forbus and May Streets in the City of Poughkeepsie, signifying the culmination of several years of planning between Jewish War Veterans Post 625 and the City of Poughkeepsie.  Pvt. Siegel was the first Jewish serviceman from Poughkeepsie killed in World War II, and Jewish War Veterans Post 625 is named in his memory.  It is an extremely apt location for the sign since Herman Siegel lived most of his life in a house that still stands on May Street. To express gratitude to the City for the sign, the members of Pvt. Herman Siegel Post 625 Jewish War Veterans of the USA pledged to clean May Street of litter on a monthly basis.

Members take picture with proclamation.

Herman Siegel was born May 4, 1925, at Vassar Hospital, the only child of Esther and Harry Siegel.  He attended local schools and graduated Poughkeepsie High in June, 1943. An excellent student in both math and science, he was involved in the music festival, orchestra, band, and track, and was very popular among his fellow classmates.  In fact, the comment under his senior photo in the year book was, “Six foot tall and not too shy, who cannot help but like this guy.” He had planned to attend Clarkson College, but was drafted into the military right after graduation.

On August 7, 1943, Herman was inducted into the Army and sent for training first to Camp Upton, L.I., later to Fort Riley, Kansas and finally to Fort Meade, Maryland.  He was then assigned to the 141st Armed Signal Battalion that supported the First Armored Division in North Africa, and was sent to participate in the Anzio Campaign.  Herman was killed on the Anzio Beachhead in Italy on May 18, 1944; he had just turned 19 years old.  Private Siegel was first interred in the military cemetery in Nettuno, Italy, and reinterred in the Hebrew Benevolent Cemetery in the City of Poughkeepsie in 1947.  After his death, his parents established the Herman Siegel Memorial Prize for Excellence in 12th Year Math at Poughkeepsie High.

The ceremony to dedicate the sign was attended by many local veterans, as well as ordinary citizens and a host of dignitaries.  Among those there to honor Pvt. Siegel were Poughkeepsie’s Mayor Rob Rolison, Director of County Veterans Services Marc Coriello, a group of administrators from the Poughkeepsie School District including Supt. Kathleen Farrell and H.S. Principal Ronald Jackson, and a representative of State Senator Sue Serino who presented the Post a proclamation from the NYS Senate.  Rabbi Eliezer Langer of Congregation Shomre Israel gave the invocation and benediction, and a Scout from John Jay High School closed the ceremony with taps.  All the speakers expressed the hope that Pvt. Siegel would prove an inspiration to today’s youth who attend Poughkeepsie High School right across the street from the sign that is dedicated to his memory.

Post 749 at Temple Mount Sinai

By Scott P. Stevens, Department Commander of TALO

The Maurice Kubby Post 749 of El Paso, Tx had a busy week of Veterans events.  On Thursday, the 8th, Lt. (Ret) Stanley Marcus and I went to the Fort Bliss Veterans Remembrance Ceremony. Mr. Marcus is a WWII Veteran, Liberator of three concentration camps and Honor Flight recipient.

Post 749

On Friday, the Post attended services at Temple Mount Sinai (Reform) Rabbi Ben Zeidman (Patron Member) performed a special blessing for all Veterans. I was given time on the Bima to speak about Veterans and the JWV. As is our tradition of many years, my wife Bonny and I sponsored and prepared a Veterans recognition Oneg.

The next day the Post attended services at Congregation B’Nai Zion (Conservative) Rabbi Scott Rosenberg called JWV members to the Bima for several aliyahs and were hosted to a luncheon after service sponsored by Mr. Mike Batkin (Life Member). I was again given time to speak about Veterans and the JWV.

On Veterans Day, members of the Post and I went to Legacy at Cimarron, a local assisted living facility to meet with senior citizen Veterans. We made presentations of U.S. flag pins (provided by Legacy) to all Veterans and surviving spouses and the Post presented the Veterans with lap blankets made by the spouses of our members. It was a memorable mitzvah to be able to have lunch with many of the veterans and spouses of veterans and swap a few war stories of their service. We thank all who served!

Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018

 

L-R:
Robert & Joanne Max, Julie & Robert Teplis, Sandy Shulman, Sam Benator, Myla Lind, Rob Augenstein, Ahava, Avi & George Heart, Robert Wolfson, Stuart Karpel, Steve Edelkind & Steven Weiniger

By George Heart, Post 112

JWV Atlanta Post 112 hosted a special guest speaker during our monthly post meeting November 18th. First, LTC (WA) George H. Heart, Ret., Post 112 CDR, presented introductory remarks about Jewish soldiers serving in the German Armed Forces.  The main speaker was Oberstleutnant (LTC) Alexander Siegfried Sauer, Bundeswehr (German Federal Armed Forces) Military Liaison to Ft. Benning.  OBSLT Sauer, who is a decorated combat veteran from Kosovo and Afghanistan, spoke about the mission of the German Army Liaison to Ft. Benning. Afterwards, he fielded a lively question and answer session that included subjects ranging from the future of NATO, the rise of anti-Semitism, and other topics.

L-R: Sam Benator, Gavin Ellman, R’ Murray Berger, Joanne and Robert Max

The Atlanta Post also far exceeded the goal of supporting veterans and active duty Soldiers throughout Veterans Day.  We spoke at local events about honoring our veterans and the contributions of the Jewish War Veterans Service Organization.  We placed hundreds of American flags on Jewish Veterans graves at Greenwood, Arlington Park and Crest Lawn Cemeteries.

Many volunteers, including veterans and family members, arrived to help us raise funds over the Veterans Day Weekend.  We passed out poppies and small American flags and collected donations to remind the public that JWV is thriving and supporting our veterans and active duty Soldiers of all faiths in Georgia.  Over $5,000 was raised and these funds will go to support our volunteer events at the Atlanta VA Medical Center, Georgia War Veterans Home, Atlanta International Airport USO, Atlanta Veterans Empowerment Organization and others.  We also support our active duty soldiers by sponsoring Shacharit Onegs at Ft. Benning’s Regimental Chapel of the Infantry.

The next Atlanta Post meeting will be Sunday, 09 Dec – the last night of Hanukkah.  This will be our second annual JWV Atlanta Post Hanukkah Military Social.  It will include a display of over 30 military themed menorahs, musical entertainment, a scrumptious Hanukkah buffet, to include sufganyot, latkes, and much more.  For more information, please visit the JWV Atlanta Facebook page.

 

Mayor Bettencourt presents a Challenge Coin to Lillian

By Barry Lischinsky, Membership Chairman

On Sunday, November 11, 2018, Jewish War Veterans (JWV) Massachusetts (MA) North Shore Post 220 Members participated in the City of Peabody, MA Veterans Day event.  Approximately three hundred (300) Veterans, families and guests attended this year’s City of Peabody Mayor’s Breakfast event thanking all community Veterans for their service.  This year’s event was dedicated to the service of Women in the Military.  The keynote speaker of the event was JWV MA Post 220 Lillian Aronson.  Lillian was born on July 1, 1917 in Salem, MA, and she is the oldest member of JWV.

In 1935, she graduated from Salem, MA High School.  Lillian felt it was important to contribute to the War effort, so contribute she did.  At the age of 26, she volunteered and joined the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC).  Lillian’s military service spans over 20 years – paving the way for Women in the military today.

Lilian, at the young age of 101, remains active today as a volunteer for both the Jewish War Veterans Massachusetts, and the Disabled American Veterans.  On occasions, you may hear Lillian’s voice as she maintains the “Birthday List” of fellow Veterans

Lillian Aronson, the keynote speaker

at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, where she resides today.

Also, recognized during this event was JWV MA Post 220 Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Donna Lehman.  In 2003, LTC Lehman served during Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Chief Nurse of a Forward Surgical Team located in Kuwait.  Attached to the 1st Armored Division with a unit from Walter Reed Hospital, she then was then stationed in Baghdad serving as the Chief Nurse of an Intensive Care Unit.  Extended on Active Duty with her unit she was redeployed to Najaf in April 2004. In mid-July 2004, LTC Lehman returned to Fort Dix, New Jersey.  Many that attended the 2018 Veterans Day event remember LTC Donna Lehman as the 2011 Veterans Day keynote speaker.

In keeping with the theme of City of Peabody’s Veterans Day event of Women in the Military, to quote a past Veterans Affairs article, “Women are now the fastest-growing subgroup of U.S. Veterans. The number of women Veterans is expected to increase dramatically in the next ten years.”   From the generation of Sargent First Class Lillian Aronson to the generation of LTC Donna Lehman, we are reminded of our Hebrew term L’ dor V’dor, meaning “from generation to generation.”   Special thanks to Mayor Bettencourt, Peabody Veterans Agent Steve Patten and the Peabody Veterans Council for recognizing all Veterans and their families.

Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018

Members of Shir Hamalot and Post 786

By Sam Yudin, Post 786 Commander

On November 16th, Shir Ha-Ma’alot in Irvine, CA showed their appreciation for their community’s veterans at their Friday night Shabbat services.  They held a special service called, “Shabbat Service: Honor Those Who Protect Us.”  It was a small event that had a major impact for those service members and veterans in attendance.

Mike Heineman was also there to give a speech about Jewish experiences in the Air Force.  He served as an instructor pilot in the Euro NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program, an F-15E combat pilot, and, after graduating from the US Air Force Test Pilot School in 2014, an F-15 and A-29 test pilot. Mike completed his service in July 2017, and he now works as an engineer at SpaceX.

After Mike’s speech, Veterans in the audience were called on the bimah one by one to be recognized by the entire congregation.  The event was made more special when we were able to Facetime with Major (MAJ) Howard Medina, who is currently deployed to Afghanistan.  MAJ Medina Major Medina’s family along with the entire congregation was able to view him on a large screen

Maj. Medina poses for a photo

as they conversed.

Major Medina is a California National Guard Soldier assigned to the 40th Infantry Division, and he is a new member of JWV Tibor Rubin Post #786.   Major Medina is an intelligence officer in the California National Guard assigned to 40th Infantry Division G2 based at Joint Forces Training Base Los Alamitos, CA.  He has been deployed to Kosovo, Guantanamo Bay, and now Afghanistan.  On those deployments he has acted as a lay leader conducting Jewish services.  He grew up in Torrance and lives in Irvine.  His wife Debbie and three boys Sam (10), Joseph (6) and Adam (6) miss him and can’t wait for him to return.

The Medinas have been members of Shir Ha-Ma’a lot for 10 years. Rabbi Steinberg and Rabbi DePaulo have been in contact with MAJ Media through email checking up with him and the Rabbi’s assistant had called Debbie and asked if we can make it possible to FaceTime with him on that night.

Events like the Shir Hamalot Shabbat Service show the Jewish community that Jewish soldiers are still serving on the front lines in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.  Here in Orange County, we are working to make Orange County a military-friendly community for our Jewish veterans and service members.

Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018