While attending the Maryland JWV District meeting in June 2017, COL Erwin Burtnick, USA (retired) District Commander, introduced me to Rabbi Chesky Tenenbaum. As the newly appointed Chaplain of the JWV Post 167 in Owings Mills, Maryland, I was interested in any advice I could receive from the Rabbi. It turned out that the Rabbi was thinking of joining the National Guard and a meeting was set up to meet later in the month.

During my follow-up meeting with Rabbi Tenenbaum, we discussed the Air and Army National Guard Chaplaincy program. Prior to our meeting I contacted Chaplain (COL) Wm Sean Lee, Joint Force Headquarters, Maryland National Guard, Chaplain to ask if Chaplain Lee know of any openings in the Chaplain Corps and he confirmed yes. As a retired 167th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron (AES) Commander, West Virginia Air National Guard (ANG) and a Flight Nurse, I discussed how important the Chaplains are for the deployed as well as wounded Service Members. My experience in Bosnia (Tazar, Hungary) and Iraq (Baghdad) the Chaplains worked synergistically with the Mobile Aeromedical Staging Facility (MASF) personnel in treating the wounded, mentally, physically, and spiritually. A MASF is a passenger terminal for the wounded and ill Service Members, foreigners, and civilians awaiting transportation to tertiary care (from the battlefield to Kuwait, Germany, or directly to the United States). I will save that story for another time.…

I found out that Rabbi Tenenbaum is a Volunteer Chaplain (Major) in the Maryland Defense Force (MDDF). The MDDF is a volunteer military organization parallel to the Maryland National Guard and is designed to augment the National Guard during stateside emergencies.

I also found out that Rabbi Tenenbaum is the founder and Director of the Jewish Uniformed Service Association of Maryland (JUSA). JUSA provides current and retired Jewish Military, Police, Fire and Public Safety Members of the state of Maryland with religious educational and social support and activities, in connection with the observance of Jewish tradition. To find out more information, contact www.JewishUSAMD.org.

…and that leads to the attached picture, Rabbi Tenenbaum asked if I ever wore Tefillin, and as a Reform Jew growing up in New Jersey I had not. He invited me to wear Tefillin and pray together. I could not pass up this new experience.

This was my second Bar Mitzvah, the wearing of Tefillin. Tefillin is a Mitzvot (precept) of the Torah. “It is mentioned in Deuteronomy 6:8 ‘And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for ornaments between your eyes.’ Tefillin consists of two small leather boxes attached to leather straps. The two boxes each contain four sections of the Torah inscribed on parchment. These passages cite:

  1. The Shema (Deut. 6:4-9) – pronouncing the Unity of The One G-d.
  2. Vehaya (Deut. 11:13-21) – expressing G-d’s assurance to us of reward that will follow our observance of the Torah’s precepts, and warning of retribution for disobedience to them.
  3. Kadesh (Exodus 13:1-10) – the duty of the Jewish people to always remember the redemption from Egyptian bondage.
  4. Vehayah (Exodus13:11-16) – the obligation of every Jew to inform his children on these matters.

One of the boxes (the ‘hand Tefillin’) is placed upon the left arm so as to rest against the heart – the seat of the emotions, and the suspended leather strap is wound around the left arm, and around the middle finger of that hand. The other box (the ‘Head Tefillin’) is placed upon the head, above the forehead, so as to rest upon the cerebrum. In this manner our attention is directed to the head, heart and hand. It teaches us to dedicate ourselves to the service of G-d in all that we think, feel and do. It is also to teach us not to be governed solely by the impulse of the heart, lest that lead us into error and transgression. Nor are we to be governed by reason alone, for that may lead to harsh materialism.

You are never to old to learn new things.

Volume 71. Number 3. Fall 2017

By Zelle Rettman

To honor Memorial Day this year, seniors at the Northwest Yeshiva High School (NYHS) went to the Sephardic Brotherhood Cemetery on Friday, May 26th, and placed flags on the gravestones of Jewish veterans. The program was led by Bob Shay, a member of the Jewish community who volunteered in the Navy from 1964-1970. He is currently a Committee Chair for Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), as well as a Post Commander for Jewish War Veterans of the United States (JWV).

Bob Shay explained that the JWV is the longest active US veterans organization, and the Seattle branch is the second largest flag project under the JWV umbrella across the country. When Bob Shay began the Seattle program in 1996, he had 58 names. Today he has over 850.

While placing flags at the cemetery, NYHS students learned about the Seattle Jewish community’s connection to the American armed forces. Students asked questions about the history of Jews serving in the US armed forces, the burial process, headstones and cemetery maintenance. They were especially moved when placing a flag by the gravestone belonging to a name they recognized, which happened far more frequently than any of them anticipated.

Before leaving the cemetery, Bob Shay gave each student a small red booklet containing the United States of America’s founding documents. He explained that these documents are among the oldest and most long-standing documents of any country to allow Jews to live and practice their faith freely. He thanked the students for their time, impressing upon them how appreciative veterans are of the recognition.

Volume 71. Number 3. Fall 2017

By Martin C. Hochhauser

On a cold but clear day on January 30, 2017 dignitaries came to Hyde Park, NY to commemorate the birth of our 32nd president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Born on January 30, 1882, this year we celebrated FDR’s 135th birthday. It was a beautiful ceremony as The Long Gray Line of West Point cadets came marching into the Rose Garden to the beat of a solemn drummer. Following this majestic entrance came over a dozen dignitaries who presented wreaths to honor President Roosevelt. The local community was on the periphery of the Rose Garden to witness this annual event.

Among the twelve groups presenting wreaths, one group was the Jewish War Veterans of the United States, Pvt. Herman Siegel Post #625 of Poughkeepsie, NY. Representing the Post was Past Commander Ralph Schwartz and Chief of Staff Martin Hochhauser.

Our Post was named after a local resident, Herman Siegel, who was born and bred on May Street in the City of Poughkeepsie. Born in 1925, he graduated Poughkeepsie High School in June 1943 and joined the Army. Eleven months later, on May 18, 1944, at age 19, Pvt. Herman Siegel was killed in action in Anzio, Italy. He was the first member of the local Jewish community to die in World War II.

In addition to Commander Schwartz presenting the JWV wreath, Chief of Staff Hochhauser placed a stone on FDR’s tombstone in the Jewish tradition to indicate that a visitor has come to show respect, that the deceased has not been forgotten and to rekindle the memories of the past.

An additional wreath and flowers were presented by the family of FDR and finally the Presidential wreath was presented by Brigadier General Cindy R. Jebb, Dean of the Academic Board, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY.

The formal event was concluded with salutary volleys of an Army firing squad followed by the sounding of Taps. The Long Gray Line marched out of the Rose Garden once again to the sound of a drummer.

Finally, everyone was invited back to the Visitors’ Center to partake in two huge birthday cakes and hot beverages.

By Judge Sol Gothard

The Jewish community of New Orleans has a special Memorial Day Tradition.  Every year, the Ben Katz Post 580 and Congregation Beth Israel come together to remember our departed veterans in a uniquely Jewish way.  An indispensable tenet of the Jewish faith is remembering and honoring our deceased loved ones by saying the Kaddish prayers for them every year on the anniversary of their death as well as three times during the year – Passover, Sukkot and Shavout.

This year, 580’s Memorial Day Remembrance was spread out over the three day weekend.  After usual Friday services, the congregants each lit memorial candles for their deceased veterans as Major Carl Berman USAR called out their names.  Judge Gothard, commander of Post 580, lit candles for his three brothers that served in World War II – Abe, Jack and Gerald.  Abe was a combat engineer, and he was part of the D-Day assault on Omaha Beach.  He fought throughout the war until he was seriously wounded at the Battle of the Bulge, and he was awarded the Purple Heart for his service during the battle.

On Shabbat morning, a special memorial service was held, and you could see members of JWV dressed in uniform and wearing their JWV caps.  MAJ Berman gave the sermon – “the fundamental question for this speech is ‘How does one who was raised in a Black Baptist family and went to a Jesuit Catholic college, end up marrying into an Orthodox Jewish family and want to become a Jew?”  She spoke about her love of the Jewish faith and her experiences in Afghanistan in 2008.  “Even though I had not been to the mikvah yet, I have always adhered to the Jewish faith to the point where my dog tags say ‘Jewish’.”  She was advised by one of her senior officers to bury her dog tags if something bad happened.  “I decided that my dogs would not be buried in the desert; they will hang around my neck,” said Berman.

On Memorial Day, members of JWV and the clergy staff of the synagogue held a graveside memorial service.  The Rabbis recited our ancient memorial prays on behalf of those veterans who served and of those who gave their lives fighting.  Gothard spoke at the ceremony, stating that Jewish veterans of any branch of the military are eligible for membership at the New Orleans Post.  He was very proud that Post 580 is one of the most diverse chapters in America.  He stated that patrons from other faiths joined because of the humanitarian work that we do on behalf of veterans.  “Anyone can join as a Patron member; you do not have to be a veteran or Jewish,” said Gothard.  Post 580 is currently doing a membership drive for 2017 to 2018, where the post will provide the dues for new members and give them a free service cap.  For more information, please contact Judge Gothard at judgesol@cox.net.

Volume 71. Number 3. Fall 2017

By PNC Lawrence Schulman

On May 24, 2017, Gary Ginsburg and I visited West Point for their annual Baccalaureate Service for the class of 2017.  Our post, David J Kauffman Post 41, has sponsored the refreshments at the Baccalaureate Service in the West Point Jewish Chapel for over 30 years.

This year, the Jewish graduating class consisted of 15 cadets – 1 woman and 14 men.  The cadets come from all over the United States, including New York State as well as the State of Washington.  Their first assignments range from Elgin Air Force Base to the Graduate School at MIT.

The ceremony opened with a Wall Dedication Ceremony, where the graduates’ names are added to the Wall of Names in the chapel.  If you remember our history with West Point, one half of the first class of graduates were Jewish – that class graduated with two officers and one was Jewish!

This year, a new Jewish chaplain was appointed – Captain David Ruderman.  They rotate Jewish chaplains every three or four years.

The service consist of a welcome to those in attendance, invocation by the chaplain, music by the Jewish Chapel Cadet Choir and a keynote address by an alumni of West Point.

This year’s speaker was BG Cindy Jebb, USMA Class of 1982.  BG Jebb serves as the 14th Dean of the Academic Board.  She has served in many positions in the Army – starting a s a military intelligence officer to service as a member on the Foreign Relations Council.

After his keynote address, LTC (R) Walter Stern and Bernard Stotch from the JWV Department of New York presented Kiddush cups to the men and candlestick holders to the female graduate and copies of Jewish Literacy by Rabbi Telushkin.

Department of New York was sponsored the Friday night Onegs at West Point for over fifty years.  Many posts and other departments join in to make this possible.  If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Post 41 for more information.

Volume 71. Number 3. Fall 2017

By Mort Millinger

At the 86th JWV Department of New Jersey Annual Convention, the Leo A. Seigel – Dr. Philip Shapiro Education Grants were awarded to three deserving recipients – Austin Grant, Joshua Schuman and Eric Schneider.  All are direct descendants of JWV members, and we could not be prouder of their education, athletic and community accomplishments that contributed them to getting these awards.

The JWV NJ Education Grant program awards these grants annually to graduating seniors from public or private high schools in the state of New Jersey.  All applicants must be a direct descendent of a member, living or deceased, of a Jewish War Veterans Post in New Jersey for a minimum of three years.

This year’s recipients are a prestigious group of young adults, and we know that they will go on to do great things for our community as well as the United States. Austin Grant of Verona, NJ, will be attending Duke University. Joshua Schuman of West Orange, NJ will be attending the University of Delaware.  Lastly, Eric Schneider of Livingston, NJ will be attending the University of Maryland.  Congratulations Austin, Joshua and Eric!  Now, go make us proud!

Volume 71. Number 3. Fall 2017

Oceanfest, in Long Branch NJ, “Down the Jersey Shore,”   is a 27-year old July 4th celebration organized by the Greater Long Branch Chamber of Commerce. July 4th festivities there have resurged with vigor since the revitalization of the beachfront promenade following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Under perfect skies this year, the holiday crowd was estimated at more than one hundred thousand for the day-long event and evening fireworks display.

Participating at Oceanfest again this year, as it has done over the past decade (except for Saturday occurrences of Independence Day), JWV Jersey Shore Post 125 set up its public service booth in an ideally situated assigned location and staffed it with a hard-working cadre of volunteers to raise funds for veterans’ support services in the state and to interact with the public in increasing awareness of JWV activities on behalf of veterans’ affairs. Post 125’s contingent, led by Post Commander Dr. Allan Solden, was joined by visits from Dept. of NJ Commander Al Adler and PDC Bob Jacobs. A sudden change in travel plans prevented a scheduled visit by National Commander Carl Singer who, a decade earlier, as Department of New Jersey Commander, was instrumental in launching JWV participation in the Long Branch event.

Post 125’s Oceanfest event organizer and Honorary Dept. Commander, Gerald Levine, in summarizing the success of the day’s activities this year, observed that the stream of friendly visitors at the booth was unabated, even into the late afternoon moments as the team was closing down. Those who visited the booth represented a full spectrum of American society. Post 125’s team felt especially gratified by the seemingly endless stream of greetings that included, “Thank you for your service.” It was clear that these words flowed from the hearts of individuals, family groups, the young, their parents, and the young-at-heart, who stopped by to say hello, to contribute, and to express their gratitude to America’s community of veterans. JWV Jersey Shore Post 125 was proud to represent that community at Oceanfest.

Volume 71. Number 3. Fall 2017

By Art Kaplan

The Harvey J. Bloom Post 256 in Dallas met their local Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts at the Dallas Jewish Community Center in order to honor our fallen Veterans at 3 area cemeteries.  There were 32 volunteers present, and they all went to the Shearith Israel Cemetery on Dolphin Rd.  Back in 1955, Post 256 sponsored a monument honoring our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guard men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in order to preserve our American way of life.

A few words were spoken by TALO Commander Art Kaplan, and then NEC, PDC Jerry Benjamin played TAPS.  After the ceremony, the Boy Scouts alongside the JWV members proceeded to put flags on the graves of our Veterans.

After Shearith Israel Cemetery ceremony was complete, some of the group went on to Temple Emanu-El’s Cemetery on Lemmon Ave and some went to Sparkman Hillcrest Cemetery to put flags on the Veterans graves there.  “The day was a humbling experience knowing what these deceased Veterans did for us to be able to enjoy all the freedoms that America has to offer,” said Art Kaplan, Commander of TALO.

Volume 71. Number 3. Fall 2017

By Carl Singer

I just returned home from doing a Mitzvah.

One of my other volunteer “hats” is county chair for ESGR – the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.  ESGR is a Department of Defense organization that addresses the needs of Guard and Reserve service members and their employers.  (See:  www.esgr.mil  for information.)  As such along with other veterans-oriented volunteers I attend meetings coordinated by the Catholic Family and Community Services Supportive Services for Veterans and Families (SSVF).  David Pearson does a unbelievable job as their Assistant Director of Veterans Services.  Last week I received an email from David that a veteran who lives in the Paterson Park Apartments (New Jersey) had been mugged and robbed – both his money and his bicycle had been stolen.  For this veteran his bicycle is not recreational, but his primary means of transportation.

Like many empty nesters I have a few bicycles gathering dust at home.  So I contacted Michele Kadell who is the Senior Case Manager at Paterson Park Apartments which provides “Permanent Supportive Housing for Homeless and/or Disabled Veterans.”  Michelle runs a wonderful apartment complex for veterans.  This complex which is private/public funded provides a home to both male and female veterans (and in some cases their families.)  As you’ll recall in my testimony before the joint Senate/House Veterans Affairs Committee – “One homeless veteran is one too many!”

I teamed up with a friend of mine, Paul Anderson, (SgtMaj U.S. Marine Corps, Retired) who helped me fix up my son’s bicycle and we then were able to deliver the bike today.

It shows again that little things mean a lot – helping veterans on a 1 to 1 basis is important.

Pictured below are the bicycle and (from left to right) me, Paul and our veteran, Gary.

God Bless the United States of America.

Volume 71. Number 3. Fall 2017

By Steve Markman

It would be difficult for any major museum, or other major public attraction for that matter, to function without an army of dedicated volunteers.  The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base just outside of Dayton, Ohio, is no exception.  While visitors will see staff members just about everywhere they venture in the Museum’s four massive buildings, just about all of them are volunteers.  From the Information Desk at the entrance to docents stationed at most of the exhibits, and others throughout the complex, most staff that a visitor will see are volunteers.

Members of Jewish War Veterans Post 587 always have supported the Museum.  Currently, six members serve in various roles throughout the complex, which is the largest military museum in the world.

Three members volunteer in the Holocaust exhibit:  Ira Segalewitz, Henry Guggenheimer, and Joe Bettman.  Ira and Henry are Holocaust survivors and routinely tell of their personal experiences from this sad era to large groups of school children.  Both also are Army veterans of the Korean War.  Joe Bettman has visited two former concentration camps and relates his thoughts of this experience to Museum visitors.

Leslie Buerke and Bert Cream serve as docents in different galleries throughout the Museum.  They study about the aircraft and artifacts in their areas and are ready to answer the m  ost-often asked questions from the public (Getting stumped usually results in their researching the question to be better prepared for the next time).  Bert always is ready to answer technical questions based on this thirty-six years experience in military aviation R&D.  Their duties also include watching for any problems visitors may have and providing assistance or calling in professional staff as needed.

Steve Markman, former Post 587 Commander and now Dept of Ohio Commander, volunteers in the Restoration Division.  He works out of sight of the public, helping to prepare aircraft for display.  For over ten years, Steve has been restoring the historic Memphis Belle.  The Memphis Belle was the first U.S. Army Air Forces heavy bomber to return to the U.S. after completing 25 missions over Europe.  (The Memphis Belle will go on public display in May of 2018.)

A seventh member, Felix Weil, who escaped Europe on the Kindertransport, also volunteered as a docent, but recently left the area to be closer to family.

Volume 71. Number 3. Fall 2017