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