In 2009, while serving on his local school board, JWV Post 126 member Dr. Kenneth Hartman noticed his school district in Cherry Hill, New Jersey did not honor graduating high school seniors who planned to enlist in the military after graduation.

As both a soldier and son of a holocaust survivor, Hartman decided to take action. He founded Our Community Salutes (OCS).

For the past 14 years since Hartman founded OCS, the organization has held hundreds of recognition ceremonies across the country for high school enlistees. Tens of thousands of people have attended or spoken at OCS ceremonies; truly a testimony to the appreciation for the young men and women entering the military, as well as their families.

The organizing body of OCS includes community leaders, educators, business leaders, veterans, and patriotic Americans who feel strongly about honoring these young enlistees, the importance of community support and recognition for the courageous and patriotic young adults who will serve in the U.S. Armed Services after graduation, and the 1% of young Americans who take a solemn oath to protect our liberties and freedoms.

When COVID restrictions forced the cancellation of nearly all OCS Ceremonies in 2020, Hartman conceived of and obtained funding to produce and broadcast America Salutes 2020, a star-studded broadcast to honor our nation’s high school enlistees.

The broadcast in 2021 reached over 20 million people in more than 160 different countries. This year, in addition to live ceremonies, America Salutes 2022 will premiere on May 19 with actor Gary Sinise joining as one of the celebrity hosts.

“Our mission and activities have never been more timely or important. Our nation faces a true national security threat due to a dangerously low troop strength,” said OCS Board Member Julie Strauss Levin. “There is an alarming increase of suicides among veterans, as well. We must do much better to honor these young men and women who are willing to serve our country. They and their families deserve our support and respect, and OCS is the only entity spearheading this crucial action.”

OCS is the only national organization bringing communities together to honor and support the 150,000 high school seniors planning to enlist in the military following graduation each year.

OCS ceremonies also provide much needed transitional resources to new enlistees – 75% of whom will only serve for 48 months. Now more than ever, military-bound high school seniors and their families need to know that the country stands with them in their selfless decision to serve our great nation. To learn more about how to support OCS and sign a virtual thank you card for the class of 2022, log onto www.OCSUSA.org.

Volume 76. Number 1. 2022

By PNC Carl Singer

Like many JWV posts, Essex-Preiskel-Miller-Glassberg Post 47 strives to honor our fallen comrades by putting out flags prior to Memorial Day and Veterans Day. We focus on two cemeteries in northern New Jersey, Menorah Cemetery in Passaic and the King Solomon Cemetery in Clifton. To accomplish this mission, we are helped by numerous community volunteers and Scouts BSA (formerly the Boy Scouts).

The King Solomon Cemetery is a large facility with over 50,000 graves. This past November the scouts who were assisting us found two graves with what we thought were logos for the Royal Air Force. We, of course, wanted to do right to honor these allied veterans.

It was a circuitous path to make this happen. Unable to reach the appropriate personnel at the British Embassy, I contacted my Congressman’s Chief of Staff, who in turn contacted the Congressional Liaison to the British Embassy. A Group Captain at the British Embassy who serves as their Assistant Air and Space Attaché contacted me. His sharp eyes determined the logos on the headstone were actually RCAF, for the Royal Canadian Air Force. He forwarded my request to his Canadian counterpart.

I was contacted by a Lieutenant-Colonel who is the Assistant Canadian Forces and Space Attaché. In turn, I contacted the Poppy & Remembrance Director at The Royal Canadian Legion.

Our post then purchased the appropriate Canadian flags so we could put them on the two graves. Mission Accomplished.

Volume 76. Number 1. 2022

Four Jewish veterans marked the first day of Chanukah in 2021 by performing a mitzvah, volunteering to help fellow veterans and service members of the New York National Guard to load donated Christmas Trees at Ellms Tree Farm in Ballston Spa, New York on November 29.

Post Commander Altman

The JWV members from Albany Post 105 helped load 110 donated Christmas trees onto a truck for delivery to military bases around the country to support military families this holiday season as part of the Trees for Troops program.

The program has been ongoing for 17 years, said Richard Goldenberg, the JWV Capital District Council Commander.

Goldenberg began volunteering in 2006 following his return from a combat deployment to Iraq with the Army National Guard.

“The holiday season, when deployed far from home, can be especially difficult for military families,” Goldenberg said, “whether it is lighting candles for Hanukkah or gathering around a Christmas tree.”

The donated trees are a reminder of home, no matter your faith, he said. The trees provide a sight and smell of life back at home and remind troops that they are not forgotten when so far away.

“It amazes me, each and every year to see the support of our local tree farmers and the turnout to help load these trees,” said Garth Ellms, the third-generation owner of Ellms Family Farm, the collection site for regional tree farms.

Trees for Troops was launched in 2005, and with the help of FedEx Corp., has delivered more than a quarter million Christmas Trees to U.S. military bases at home and overseas.

The local effort is a reflection of JWV supporting veterans of all faiths, explained Gene Altman, the JWV Schenectady Post 106 Commander. He said it is a way of showing our support to all military families.

Supporting the mitzvah effort at Ellms Family Farm were Altman, Goldenberg, Gary Hoffmann, and Dan Tilsner.

Volume 75. Number 4. 2021

By Larry Jasper, National Editor

Due to a drop in the number of cases related to the pandemic, the Department of Florida decided to hold an in-person convention. We limited the number of attendees to 50, practiced social distancing, and required masks except during meals.

The one-day convention took place at the Delray Beach Golf Club in Delray Beach, Florida on Sunday, June 6. National Commander Jeffrey Sacks and National Vice Commander Alan Paley were both in attendance.

The convention was a joint venture with the Florida JWV Auxiliary, led by State President Verna Rosenzweig.

Also in attendance was Past National Commander Nathan Goldberg who turned 97 a few days later.

In addition to the usual department business and reports, NC Sacks presided over the installation of the Department of Florida Officers and installations for two local Posts.

The convention included a joint memorial service with JWV and JWVA. We also had two presentations via Zoom, with question and answer sessions. Dr. Charles Sand discussed myths associated with the coronavirus and vaccines. Debra Harris talked about suicide prevention and crisis intervention. Sacks also spoke during the JWV/JWVA luncheon.

Volume 75. Number 3. 2021

By Eric Spinner

Fifty-one years after being killed in action in Vietnam, members of JWV’s Nassau-Suffolk District found the neglected headstone of Steven Gershnow at New Montefiore Cemetery in Farmingdale, New York. They found the headstone on June 11, 2018, but it took until September 17, 2020 to complete the restoration.

Like so many others in his generation, Gershnow enlisted in the United States Army and went to Vietnam. Just three weeks after his deployment in June of 1968, he died after coming under attack in Bin Duong Province. The Woodmere, New York native served with 1st Infantry Division, 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry, D Company. Gershnow was just 23 years old.

Our JWV team, consisting of Department of New York Commander Jack Holzman and Ensign Lawrence D. Solowey Post 652 Commander Gary Glick contacted the cemetery’s groundskeeper Thomas Whelan after finding the neglected gravestone. It turns out that getting a gravestone restored is not such a simple procedure, and it took 27 months to get through all the red tape.

Volume 75. Number 1. 2021

Veterans Day, November 11, began as a perfect fall morning. A light breeze unfurled the stars and stripes just above the Texas and Israeli flags on the three flagpoles at the Jewish Community Center in Austin, Texas.

The Color Guard, Commander, Chaplain, and guests of Post 757 gathered in person for the first time, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Color Guard was anchored by announcer Mike London, Bugler Gregg Philipson, Flag Holders/Raisers Alana Pompa and Bob Kaplan, and Rifleman Chuck Mandlebaum. Rabbi Dan Millner delivered the blessing, and Commander Charlie Rosenblum offered the closing remarks.

It was heart-warming to see a class of very young children of the Austin Jewish Academy, all sitting quietly, taking it all in behind their masks.
Commander Rosenblum thanked all those attending, including the JCC team who helped to make the event happen.

Volume 74. Number 4. 2020

By Lou Michaels

The Department of Minnesota celebrated its 75th anniversary with a dinner at Mancini’s Steakhouse in St. Paul, Minnesota on Wednesday, October 28. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, strict CDC guidelines were followed, including a restriction on the number of guests who attended in person. There were 85 people who attended the dinner in the main room, 25 in an outside room, and many more via Zoom.

JWV National Judge Advocate Peter Nickitas served as the Master of Ceremonies for the event which Department of Minnesota Commander Lou Michaels organized. The Department Chaplain Irving Rosenbloom offered opening and closing prayers.

A number of distinguished guests were present in person, including National Commander Jeff Sacks, National Chief of Staff Robert Nussbaum, Department of Wisconsin Commander Kim Queen, Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General Shaun Menke, Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Larry Herke, DAV National Commander Stephen Whitehead, AMVETS State of Minnesota Commander John Flores, American Legion State of Minnesota Commander Mark Dovrak, Minnesota State Senator Sandy Pappas, and Prime Minister of the Winter Carnival Royal House of Spire Joe Johnston.
During the event, the Department received proclamations in honor of its 75th anniversary from St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and Governor Tim Walz.
Royalty from the St. Paul Winter Carnival, established in 1886, bestowed honors on some of the distinguished guests by “knighting” Sacks and Nussbaum. Sacks is the third consecutive National Commander to attend the annual dinner and receive this honor.

The day also happened to be Sacks’ birthday and we celebrated by presenting him with a large cake at the close of dinner.

Volume 74. Number 4. 2020

By Barbara Leap

During the final throes of World War II, when May Brill was 20, she decided to follow her two brothers into the military.
Her reasoning: “What about me? It’s my country, too.”

While her brothers were in the Army and Coast Guard, Brill thought the Navy might be a good fit for her. But there was a problem. The year was 1944 and the Navy wouldn’t accept women for another four years. It did have a women’s auxiliary called the WAVES, and that’s what Brill joined.
Now 96, Brill is engaged in a new battle. She wants to make sure the world knows that women in all branches of the military have served, fought, and died for their country.

“Women veterans are invisible,” Brill says. Now she’s spearheading a project encouraging female veterans to order a cap designed with their military branch, and to wear it daily like their male counterparts.

The longtime resident of Cherry Hill, New Jersey launched her project with a single cap, her own, designed with the U.S. Navy insignia. She has arranged for the Keystone Uniform Cap Corporation in Philadelphia to produce them for other veterans for $45.

Three of Brill’s friends, Air Force veterans Selina Kanowitz, Julia Coker, and Army veteran Constance Cotton, are helping her to promote this effort.

Despite approaching the century mark, Brill, energetically continues her involvement in volunteer activities, including serving as honorary commander of JWV Post 126 of Southern New Jersey. Last year she established the Norman and May Brill Memorial Legacy to permanently provide public forums at the JCC each Friday in May in honor of all veterans.

Brill is so busy, she jokes that her four daughters, 11 granddaughters, and four great-granddaughters, “have to make an appointment to see me.”

Volume 74. Number 4. 2020

JWV Post 1 held a ceremony in New York on March 13 to celebrate the 124th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish War Veterans and Post 1. National Commander Harvey Weiner participated in the ceremony at the site of the founding meeting, which is now the DoubleTree by Hilton Metropolitan. In the lobby, a plaque reads:

“On this site on March 15, 1896, in the Lexington Avenue Opera House, the Hebrew Union Veterans Association which became the Jewish War Veterans of the USA, the oldest active veterans organization in the United States was founded.”

Singled out for special mention at the ceremony were the seven Jewish Civil War veterans who organized that first meeting: Jastrow Alexander, Isadore Eckstein, Isadore Isaacs, Jacob Jacobs, Joseph Steiner, Joseph Unger, and Joseph Wolff.

Post 1 Junior Vice Commander Rabbi Andrew Scheer said during the ceremony, “I am heartened when I see American flags on the grounds of the historic 18th and 19th century [Jewish] cemeteries in Chinatown, Greenwich Village, and Chelsea where Jewish veterans from Congregation Shearith Israel, the Spanish-Portuguese Synagogue, are buried.”

He added, “Their sacrifice is a reminder that although our membership in Jewish War Veterans today continues a tradition begun in 1896, we are part of an even longer, unbroken lineage of proud and patriotic Jewish military service that stretches back before our nation was even founded.”
During the ceremony Scheer also led memorial prayers in honor of those seven men who attended the first meeting.

Volume 74. Number 2. 2020

By Barry Lischinsky

On Sunday, December 15, members of JWV and the JWVA gathered to celebrate North Shore Post 220 member Lillian Aronson’s 102nd birthday. At the age of 26, Aronson volunteered to join the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). She became a career soldier, spending the next 20 years on active duty and achieving the rank of a Sergeant First Class. During the birthday celebration, JWV National Commander Harvey Weiner presented her with a Centenarian Certificate and a JWV Commander’s Coin.

JWV MA Department Commander Jeffrey Blonder presented Aronson with a certificate from Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey and JWV MA North Shore Post 220 Commander Alan Lehman presented her with a certificate from Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton. Aronson is still an active member of both the Jewish War Veterans and the Disabled American Veterans.

Volume 74. Number 1. 2020