Posts

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.

Norman Rosenshein and Dr. Barry Schneider at NATO HQ.

By Dr. Barry J Schneider, National Commander

Coordinating Committee Chairman Norman Rosenshein and I were privileged to attend the NATO briefings in Brussels, Belgium. At NATO, we met with our NATO Defense Attaché Jordan Becker, who discussed current NATO strategies and the ongoing importance of sharing the financial and physical support among the member nations. Our next discussion covered the situations in Afghanistan by analyst Jim Golby and Turkey by analyst Michael Polyak. We found the briefings to be well planned and both analysts to be very forthcoming. Our final briefing at NATO was conducted by Justin Suni, the Public Affairs Officer. The discussion centered around the ongoing issue of the necessity of being politically correct and “keeping everyone happy,” while still getting the message out.

The following day, we were privileged to meet with U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, Ronald J. Gidwitz, at his beautiful residence.

AJEX Parade in London.

He was a delightful host. Coffee and cakes were served followed by a tour of the Embassy. Courtesy calls were made to the following Embassy staff members: Defense Attaché Col. Stephenson, Deputy Counselor for Political and Economic Affairs Matt Habinowski and Cultural Affairs Specialist Brian Dick, who discussed the U.S. participation in Belgium’s WWI and WWII commemorative events.

From Brussels, we moved on to London for one of the most memorable events that I have had the privilege to participate in. The Association of Jewish Ex-Service Men and Women (AJEX) conducted their 84th annual parade and wreath laying ceremony at Whitehall in memory and honor of the 100th anniversary of the WW 1 Armistice.

The Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women (AJEX) was founded in 1929 to serve the needs of Jewish veterans of the First World War (1914-18). AJEX membership includes Ex-National Servicemen who served in Korea, Kenya, Malaysia, Cyprus, Iraq, The Falklands and Afghanistan. Lord Sterling is the current President of the Association.

Veterans from Israel, France, Australia and the United States participated in the parade and wreath laying ceremony. It was my honor to be one of the wreath layers as the American representative. Over 2,000 people attended the ceremony and parade. Watching the WWII vets march with the assistance of canes and wheelchairs was a heartwarming event. No wonder they are known as the Greatest Generation! The Chief Rabbi of England conducted a meaningful memorial service. It was an awe-inspiring event, and I, personally, was very glad it did not rain.

Following the parade, we were treated to high tea and comradery with the members of AJEX and other dignitaries. A keynote address was given, thanking AJEX for their outstanding work and to present good wishes to outgoing President Jacques Weisser for his 24 years of service to AJEX. On Monday, a gala dinner was held for AJEX members and foreign visitors. The dinner itself was spectacular and all kosher, and yes, we all ate too much and enjoyed every bite.

On Monday morning, we were welcomed to a short visit to the U.S. Embassy in London. We met with First Secretary Anna Stinchcomb, from the Political Department and First Secretary Jason Uliner from the Cultural and Economic Department. Both briefed us on current events affecting the U.S. and UK.

The trip was enlightening. I encourage JWV to continue the relationships with NATO and AJEX. It is important for us to continue to be knowledgeable of current events and topics that affect us as Americans, as Jews and as JWV members.  As the National Commander, I was honored to be your representative.

Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018

SGT Alicia Rosenbaum in Tikrit in 2010.

By Sabrina Fine, Communications Intern

While speaking at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, VA, Defense Secretary James Mattis told cadets that the “jury is still out” on women serving in the infantry. His remarks were perceived in different ways.

When a male cadet asked Mattis what his thoughts were on research of women in the military. Mattis said it was a very difficult situation and was also linked to societal gender roles.

“In the event of trouble, you’re sleeping at night in your family home and you’re the dad, mom, whatever. And you hear glass break downstairs, who grabs a baseball bat and gets between the kids’ door and whoever broke in, and who reaches for the phone to call 9-1-1,” said Mattis. “In other words, it goes to the most almost primitive needs of a society to look out for its most vulnerable.”

He stated that his job was to help solve problems. Yet, looking at current numbers studies there just isn’t enough yet to know if it is beneficial.

“This is an issue right now that we have Army, Navy, Marines ― all looking at as we speak. And that is the close-quarters fight being what it is, you know, is it a strength or a weakness to have women in that circumstance,” asked Mattis.

Mattis said that there is not currently enough data and that while he is open to it, he would like to make an educated decision on the matter.

SGT Hilary LaFever in Eastern Diyala in 2006.

Some women did not take those comments positively. Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) is suing the U.S. government because of the limits in women combat roles.

Monica Medina is a board member of SWAN, whose mission is to give military women past, future and present a voice. Medina helped write Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s women integration policy.

“Now the current defense secretary appears to be undercutting that policy (“This is a policy that I inherited,” Mattis said) by casting doubt on women’s ability to fight in combat units,” wrote Medina in the Washington Post.

Panetta’s policy opened all jobs, in all units, including combat ones to women. The policy stated that their mission was to put the most qualified service members in roles in order to maintain mission readiness.

If a woman could pass the requirements, she could fit the role. Currently, the numbers of women serving in those roles are small. According to the Army Times, 18 women have graduated from the elite Army Ranger School. According to the Military Times, two women have graduated from the Marine’s 13-week Infantry Officer Course.

Yet, some data from June 2016- June 2018 indicates that women sustained fewer injuries which conflicts with past studies suggesting combat units with women were less effective and had more injuries.

Mattis explained there was not enough information and statistics for him to make a decision.

“Remember our natural inclination to have this open to all. But we cannot do something that militarily doesn’t make sense,” Mattis told the cadet.

He argued that the media has mistaken his comments. He also mentioned that the female cadets he was speaking to did not take his comments negatively, he explained to reporters at the Pentagon.

“The female cadets took it just the opposite ― that the door was open,” said Mattis to reporters.

Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018

Sam Yudin, Greg Lee and other 786 members pose for a photo.

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

The exhibit

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

Temple Beth Torah Sha’aray Tzedek

Alan Paley is an active member of the synagogue and veteran. Below are his remarks to the audience.

Good Shabbos,

Tomorrow, the nation will pause for a few minutes to both honor, and pay tribute to, the many men and women who served in the military, and then returned home.

Most cities and towns hold symbolic celebrations for their veterans at the 11th hour of the 11th day, of the 11th month. For this was the time in 1918 that the armistice was signed with Germany, ending World War 1, permitting tired and homesick soldiers to return home.

But, when we speak about Veterans, we often group them together in one big giant pot.

They are all the same.  Each one wore the uniform of the United States Military and basically did what they were told.

No more, no less.

But, Veterans are individuals as well. Each had a unique job that they performed. Each served in one of the five branches of the armed services. And, each served at a different time.

Starting with the American Revolution, and making our way through the Civil War, two deadly world wars, The Korean and Vietnam Wars.

And most recently, the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan, fought as part of the U.S. War on Terrorism.

Yet, every veteran has a story all their own.

So, this morning, as we gather here in the comfortable sanctuary of our synagogue, I want to tell you about 3 individual Veterans – each unique in their military service and history. Each, a Veteran of the war in Vietnam.

Our first Veteran enlisted in the United States Navy in 1966, at a time when the draft was at its highest level.  Young men and women who enlisted during this time frame were often looked upon a being somewhat “strange” Why are you enlisting?  There is a war going on!!

You must be nuts to willingly join the military, were the cries often heard from family and friends.  Yet, this individual did just that.  He enlisted.

Following basic training at Great Lakes Illinois, this Veteran was then selected to attend Basic Electronic and Electricity Training.  Upon successful completion of those studies, he was sent to Bainbridge, Maryland, to attend additional training to become a Radioman.  As a certified Radioman, he was then assigned to the USS Joseph P Kennedy in 1967.  His duties as a Radioman were the processing and execution of all phases of incoming and outgoing electronically generated shipboard communication.

He also helped to train lower ranking personnel in the same field.  He remained on that ship until 1970.  Upon discharge from active duty, he joined the Naval Reserve, where he actively served for another 6 years.  While in the reserves, he took advantage of the GI Bill and enrolled in the City University of New York, he graduated at the top of his class. He then accepted a job as a Secondary Science Teacher. He remained in that position for the next 29 years, and retired in 2005 as Teacher, and Chairman of the Science Department.  He is usually here every Shabbat, but is currently resting at home following a short hospital stay.

He is an involved member of our synagogue, and an active member of our Men’s Club.This Veteran is Aubrey Harley.

Our next Veteran enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve in 1968, and having already graduated from college and medical school, entered with the rank of Lieutenant. He was assigned as the Battalion Surgeon at Port Hueneme in California.  However, a month later, his unit was deployed to South Vietnam, were he also served as the Battalion Surgeon.

While in Vietnam, his job was to stabilize the wounded, and prepare them to be med-evaced to area field hospitals. He saw firsthand the effects of war, as he cared for and provided medical attention to those wounded servicemen who were brought back to his Battalion for treatment. Young men, whose life at times hung by a very thin thread. Often, he stood between life and death for these wounded soldiers.

He is most proud of the fact that he initiated a program of training 3 local residents in basic health care, so they could serve as village care providers, where there was no previous health care available.

He returned to the United States in 1969 and served as the Medical Officer at the San Diego Naval Hospital.  He separated from active duty in 1970 but continued to serve in the Naval Reserve until January of 1975.  During this time, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

He continued to practice medicine all through his civilian career and just recently retired.  This Veteran, who is in the synagogue this morning, also serves as the President of our Men’s Club.

Alan Paley

This Veteran is Dr. Alan Miller.

Our third Veteran has a somewhat different story to tell.

Joining Army ROTC when he was in college, he knew that upon graduation he would have to enter the military.  As a college graduate, he would enter active duty as an officer, rather than an enlisted man, so his chances of seeing action in Southeast Asia were slightly reduced. Or so he thought…..  Following training in Virginia, he received orders to go to Germany.

Along with his wife, he set off to Manheim for his first overseas assignment, as a Brigade Personnel Officer.

Concurrent to his assignment in Germany, his younger brother, who had enlisted in the Air Force, was also stationed in Germany.  His brother however, was not an officer, but was an airman specializing in the weapons system of the latest United States Air Force fighter jet, the Phantom F-4.

The largest, fastest fighter jet in the Air Force inventory, and the leading aircraft in the war in Vietnam.

Knowing this, and realizing that the chances of his brother getting orders for Southeast Asia far outweighed his, he decided to speak with his commanding officer and subsequently, requested a transfer to Vietnam.

After only 9 months of serving in Germany, he received orders to report to Long Binh Vietnam, for a 12-month tour of duty.

He served as a Staff Supply Officer, flying from location to location via helicopter, and insured that the men and women stationed at those posts, outposts and bases were provided with all the special services supplies they could get.

Recreational items, so the troops could enjoy whatever free time they had, before going back into battle.

His helicopter was shot at, his barracks was mortared, and several army buddies were killed during one of those mortar attacks.

He returned home a year later, to his wife and new baby daughter.  Enrolling in Law School, he later practiced law, and now serves as a Superior Court Judge in New Jersey.

This Veteran, although not a member of our synagogue is my brother, and his decision to volunteer for service in a combat zone, enabled me to serve my remaining years of military service in Germany, without the threat of receiving orders for Vietnam.

I never knew what he had done until 2016, some 49 years later.

One thing each of these Veterans have in common is the deeply embedded feeling of patriotism.  Although members of the military come from different walks of life, we all learned to get along and work with one another.  We watched each other’s back and knew that our comrades in arms would be watching our back, too. This is the way you survive.

In this week’s Torah portion, we read the shocking story of Jacob stealing Esau’s blessing, an action that created a rivalry so bitter, it is said to still be manifesting itself today. The Torah is full of stories of brother turning against brother. Cain kills Abel, Moses is compelled by God to turn against his brother – Pharaoh, Joseph’s brothers almost kill him over their jealousy of the treatment their father Jacob gives to Joseph – culminating with Jacob giving Joseph a coat of many colors.

The collection of Jewish texts does contain a few positive stories of one brother helping another. Most famously, although the source of the story has never been proven, is the tale of King Solomon’s quest to find a suitable location to build the First Temple.

One of God’s angels takes Solomon in one of his dreams to a field owned by two brothers.

One of the brothers is a bachelor; the other is married and has children. At the end of the harvest season, each brother is concerned for the other, and under the cover of night each adds grain to the other’s pile. The married brother was concerned because he reasoned that the bachelor had no children to support him in his old age. The bachelor was concerned because he reasoned that with so many children his brother needed more grain. The brothers met in the middle of the field and embraced.

This field, a manifestation of brotherly love, King Solomon reasoned was the best site for the Temple.

Brotherly love, commitment, and honor. These are the virtues of a Veteran.

Each of the Veterans mentioned today served their country with honor, and then returned to civilian life. Each one built a successful career.

They rarely speak about their military service on their own and are often shy about discussing it, when asked by outsiders.  But, all of them have earned the title of Veteran.

We are here today, able to live in this great country and enjoy the religious freedom that we have, because these men answered their call to duty, and served in the military.

And yes, a great many women answered that call too.

So, if you are a veteran, please stand up and be recognized.

Thank you all for your service.

May God bless those men and women both here today and all over the country that carry the title of Veteran. And, may God bless the United States of America.

Shabbat Shalom

Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018

Members of Post 256 color guard at the Dallas Kosher BBQ opening ceremony.

By Steve Krant, Post 256 Commander

(DALLAS – September 6, 2018) For the fourth year in-a-row, Dr. Harvey J. Bloom Post 256 and Auxiliary served a delicious barbecue lunch with all the usual trimmings to more than 100 homeless veterans on the campus of the Dallas Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center.

Weeks before the event, social workers and staff from the hospital’s Domiciliary Care for Homeless Veterans (DCHV) team spread the word at area shelters and temporary lodging facilities, identified and gave out admission tickets to qualified veterans, and made arrangements for “day of” transportation to the luncheon from multiple collection points.

National Commander Dr. Barry Schneider pitched-in on the serving line before speaking to the gathering about JWV’s history and mission. In addition, he offered some encouraging insights about recently confirmed VA secretary

Post 256 recruiting new members.

Robert Wilkie and his plans for the agency’s future.

The meal  was again catered by local brisket master, Big Al’s Smokehouse and underwritten by Post 256 and the generosity of a veteran-friendly Dallas philanthropist. Big Al’s crew sliced and served their beef and chicken, while post and auxiliary members dispensed iced tea and lemonade at one end of the serving line, and fresh apple pie at the opposite end.  (NEC) Jerry Benjamin brought 22 fresh pies, special ordered with a liberal discount from the bakery department of his neighborhood Tom Thumb grocery (part of the Albertsons group). Our ladies auxiliary team decorated the long tables with edible centerpieces made-up of “take away” tangerines and bananas graciously contributed by a local Costco Wholesale warehouse.

The appreciative crowd was entertained throughout the meal by talented teen singer and songwriter Joli Reiman — granddaughter of proud post members Lionel Reiman and Jim Walsh. Known professionally as “Joli Hope,” the future headliner already has several of her original songs listed on iTunes and Spotify.

In years past, the Dallas Post served a “full Monty” turkey dinner to local homeless veterans at the VA facility during the Thanksgiving holiday week. Unfortunately, well-meaning competition from other benevolent groups diluted the effort and caused “turkey burn-out” among the intended recipients. That led post leadership to rethink and regroup, ultimately launching a new tradition four years ago: An end-of-summer BBQ scheduled around the Labor Day holiday.

Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018

JWV members of Post 625 for a photo with the sign proclamation.

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.

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

Mayor Rob Rolison at the sign unveiling.

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.

Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018

Department of Rhode Island

By Barry Lischinsky, National Membership Chairman

How to Run A Veterans Day Ceremony at Your Local Jewish Community Center, Synagogue or School

What is the purpose of JWV Posts running Veterans Day ceremonies?

Veterans Day is an excellent opportunity for JWV Posts to interact with their local Jewish communities – to remind them that Jewish veterans exist and live among them.  We must capitalize on this opportunity by reaching out to our local JCCs, synagogues and schools in order to remind the Jewish community of their proud and historic service to the United States.

What is Veterans Day?

Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.

What is the importance of the 100th anniversary of the Armistice of WWI?

JWV Members setting up Veterans Day exhibit in the Merage JCC.

This Veterans Day is the 100th anniversary of the Armistice (the peace agreement) of World War 1 (WW1).  WW1 remains America’s forgotten war, even though more Americans gave their lives in that war than the wars of Korea and Vietnam combined.  More than four million American families sent their sons and daughters to serve in uniform during World War 1, and 225,000 American Jews served in that war – many of them new immigrants.  It was also the first time women were formally introduced into the Army, and we are proud to say that the first female doctor in the US Army, Kate Karpeles, was a proud Jewish woman and the daughter in law to a Jewish Medal of Honor Recipient.  By learning and teaching our community about our service, we are not only teaching the next generation, but we are also making a promise to this generation of soldiers and sailors that their service will not be forgotten 100 years from now.

How do I run a Veterans Day Ceremony?

The ceremony itself consists of 8 parts: (1) Posting of the Colors, (2) Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem, (3) Introductory Remarks, (4) Introduction of Special Guests, (5) Principal Speaker, (6) Special Reading, (7) TAPS and (8) Closing Benediction.

  • Prelude and Posting of Colors —A procession and posting of the Nation’s colors (the American Flag) is always a moving event. Local veterans service organizations or JROTC programs often participate with their impressive array of military banners and American flags.
  • Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem — The program chairperson should invite the audience to stand and join in the Pledge of Allegiance and singing of the National Anthem.
  • Introductory Remarks — Brief introductory remarks can set the tone for the program. This year, it would be appropriate to give a brief history of WW1 and the impact that it has had through our nation. A guide on WWI can be found at the WW1 Centennial Commission website, and information about Jewish soldiers during WW1 can be found at the National Museum of American Jewish Military History
  • Introduction of Guests — Dignitaries selected as special guests may include local government officials, distinguished military personnel and veterans from your community should be introduced at the event.
  • Principal Speaker — Your principal speaker should be invited far enough in advance to allow adequate preparation for your program. JWV is able to provide speakers through our Project Maggid program.  Please contact JWV’s Programs Department if you are interested in getting a speaker.
  • Selected Reading —A reading of a well-known patriotic address by a famous military hero by a talented student can be effective. Selected readings are available from the National Museum of American Jewish Military History.
  • Moment of Silence, Taps — While Veterans Day is primarily a tribute to America’s living veterans, and should be observed more as a celebration than as a somber remembrance, it is always appropriate to include a moment of respect for those who gave their lives for their country. This year, the Jewish community lost two American heroes in the line of fire – Captain Samuel Schultz and SFC Christopher Celiz. It is important to remind the Jewish community of their stories and the stories of the other 15,000 current Jewish service members.
  • Closing Benediction — Inviting a local Rabbi or a lay leader can be a meaningful way to end the ceremony. The Prayer for America’s Military Personnel is appropriate. A link to the lyrics and musical accompaniment can be found at the JWB Jewish Chaplain’s Council

SFC Christopher Celiz. Photo Credit: US Army.

By Anna Selman, Programs and Public Relations Coordinator

WASHINGTON – Over the summer, we lost another one of our brothers in arms.  Sergeant First Class (SFC) Christopher Celiz, a member of the 1st Battalion of 75th Ranger Regiment, died July 12 of wounds suffered as a result of enemy small-arms fire in eastern Afghanistan’s Paktiya province.  He was 32.

“While conducting combat operations in Paktiya province, Celiz was wounded by enemy small arms fire,” stated a U.S. Army Special Operations Command press release. “He was treated immediately and medically evacuated to the nearest medical treatment facility where he died of his wounds.”  He was part of a team of Army Rangers supporting the CIA in an intensifying effort to kill or capture top militant targets.

“The 75th Ranger Regiment suffered a tremendous loss with the passing of SFC Chris Celiz,” Col. Brandon Tegtmeier, the 75th Ranger Regiment’s commander, said in the release. “Chris was a national treasure who led his Rangers with passion, competence, and an infectiously positive attitude no matter the situation. He will be greatly missed.”

Celiz deployed from 2008 to 2009 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and from 2011 to 2012 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). He was on his fifth deployment with 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment when he was killed. He deployed to war zones a total of seven times with the U.S. Army.

Celiz was born in 1986 in South Carolina, and he was a native of Summerville, SC.  He attended Summerville High School, where he participated in JROTC.  According to one of his JROTC battle buddies, they would spend weekends together competing at drill meets and hanging out at one another’s homes.  It was at Summerville High School where he also met the love of his life, with whom he shared an 8 year old daughter.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army in September 2007 after completing two years at the Citadel. In 2013, Celiz was selected to serve with the 75th Ranger Regiment as a combat engineer. He served with 1st Battalion as the Battalion Master Breacher and engineer and then later as a mortar platoon sergeant with Company D.  At the time of his death, Celiz was serving as the battalion mortar platoon sergeant.

Temple Mikve Israel. Photo Credit: Temple Mikve Israel.

“SFC Chris Celiz was a great Ranger leader, and he will be sorely missed by 1st Ranger Battalion. He had an incredibly positive attitude that inspired Rangers throughout the formation,” his battalion commander, LTC Sean McGee, said in the release. “SFC Class Celiz led from the front and always put himself at the decisive point on the battlefield. He was a loving husband and father, and he and his family have been an important part of the fabric that represents 1st Ranger Battalion and the Savannah community.”

His funeral took place Wednesday afternoon at Congregation Mickve Israel in historic Savannah. Flags were lowered at half-staff throughout the state in his honor.  Hundreds of mourners filled a Savannah, Georgia, synagogue to remember a Jewish soldier killed in action in Afghanistan on July 12.

“When Rob got on the plane to come home for R&R, SFC Chris Celiz shook his hand and told him to have fun and be safe. Rob said, “See you in a few weeks.” Unfortunately, Rob would not see him again. Operation Enduring Freedom began 17 years ago and it seems many have forgotten we are still in Afghanistan, or have become desensitized to that fact. Young men and women are still risking their lives every day, and this young man, a husband and father, lost his life. We cannot forget their sacrifices, or the family they leave behind,” said Kelley, a spouse of a Ranger in the 75th Regiment.

The Governor of South Carolina, Henry McMaster, ordered flags at half-staff on July 18th.  “As you look at the flag today and see it at half-staff, please take a moment to remember Sergeant First Class Christopher A. Celiz, who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country in Afghanistan, and pray for his family and friends as they, and our entire state, mourn his loss,” McMaster wrote on Facebook.

The Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. (JWV) mourns the death of SFC Christopher Celiz, and we promise to remind the Jewish community about his service and to remind the world that Jews have and will continue to proudly serve the United States – some, like Celiz, have given their lives.  This Veterans’ Day, we will be reminding Jewish communities around the country that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are continuing to this day, and we have soldiers, like Celiz, who are still dying to protect our freedom.  It is our duty to remember them and to tell the next generation of their sacrifice.