Jewish Pride in Service on Full Display at the Merage JCC
By Sam Yudin, Post 786 Commander
Tibor Rubin Post #786 has ensured Jewish American Medal of Honor Recipient display cases see the light of day for the first time in over 10 years in an exhibition at the Merage JCC in Orange County, CA.
The 40th Infantry Division of the California National Guard has been the home of 16 display cases highlighting 17 Jewish American Medal of Honor recipients. The display cases have sat in a classroom in the back of a building on Joint Forces Training Base Los Alamitos, CA. The cases were built by JWV member Alvin Selinck, of blessed memory, and donated to the California Military Department in 2004. They were displayed at the state’s military museum in Sacramento until it closed its doors. After that, they made their way to Los Alamitos by way of San Diego.
Tibor Rubin Post #786 wanted these important pieces of Jewish American military history to be seen by the widest audience possible. The obvious choice was front and center at the Merage JCC in Orange County which has 50,000 members a month pass through the aptly named main street which house(s/d) (-d depending on publication date) the Jewish American Medal of Honor Recipient Exhibit from October 12- November 30th.
From the beginning the Merage JCC has been a very supportive partner to JWV Tibor Rubin Post #786. The exhibit when first discussed was a no brainer for the president and CEO, Dan Bernstein, and the Chair of the Board, Irv Chase. “From the founding of the United States, Jews have defended the liberties that all Americans enjoy,” says Irv Chase. On the meaning of this exhibit to the JCC he continues, “It is important for American Jews to know what sacrifices their fellow Jews have made to protect the liberties they enjoy.”
On November 8th, a reception was held in honor of the exhibit and Jewish veterans in the community. The purpose of the event was to celebrate Jewish American pride in service and recognize the veterans in the community. The event which featured the California State Military Reserve Military Heritage Command’s color guard and over a dozen military members in uniform was attended by approximately 100 people. The event was called one of the most important events to happen at the JCC and very
moving by many others.
A very important feature of this exhibit is only possible due to the partnership with the California State Military Reserve Military Heritage Command which has enhanced the exhibit with many period artifacts and uniforms from the Civil War to the Vietnam War. They also have been providing tours and activities for children and adult groups at the exhibit. The children have enjoyed writing letters to the Medal of Honor recipients and trying on period uniforms. Brigadier General Jay Coggan, Commander of the California State Military Reserve was present for the event and announced that this exhibit is the very start of his command getting these important military artifacts in the eyes of the public.
Brigadier General Coggan’s comments indicate there is now a commitment that the Jewish American Medal of Honor Recipient display cases will continued to be displayed in the community. Discussions are already ongoing to bring this exhibit back next year at another local venue such as the Alpert Jewish Community Center Long Beach.
This event has also brought Jewish veterans and the Jewish community closer together. The Merage JCC has embraced its community’s veterans by definitively displaying they are proud of and value the veterans in their community making them a very veteran friendly community. JWV Tibor Rubin Post #786 looks forward to many years of great relations with the Merage JCC.
Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018