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The Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. (JWV) is pleased to announce it has elected Jeff Sacks National Commander and Alan Paley National Vice Commander during its 125th National Convention in August.

Sacks was born and raised in the Chicago area. He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant via ROTC when he graduated from the University of Illinois in 1979. He served on active duty during the Cold War in Washington, D.C. and West Germany in military police assignments. He was mobilized in 1990 in support of Operation Desert Shield and commanded the 822nd MP Company during Operation Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq in 1991. Following the Gulf War, he stayed in the Reserves, retiring as a Major in 2017. Sacks was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service during Operation Desert Storm.

Sacks and his father, a WWII Navy veteran, joined JWV Post 153 together in 1996. He rose through the ranks, and has served as the Post Commander, Department of Illinois Commander, NEC, and on various National Committees.
In civilian life, Sacks served as a law enforcement officer from 1987-2012 with the Chicago Police Department before retiring as a Sergeant. He is married to Pye Squire. They have five adult children (two are JWV members) and ten grandchildren. Jeff is active in his synagogue and has served on its board as Security Committee Chairman for the past six years.

Paley enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1966 and served as a Weapons Specialist on Phantom F-4D fighter aircraft at bases in West Germany, Italy, and Libya. He joined New Jersey JWV Post 651 in 1968 as an in-service member.

Following his honorable discharge in 1970 he became active in JWV and rose through the ranks of his post becoming one of the youngest Post Commanders in JWV. After relocating to Florida, he served as Council Commander, Department Commander, National Budget Chairman, and National Adjutant.

In civilian life, Paley is the Chief Financial Officer of Overseas Cargo, Inc., a 3rd party logistics and warehouse service provider specializing in the handling, storage, and exportation of perishable goods. He has three children and one grandchild. Alan also serves on the Executive Board of his synagogue.

We wish Sacks and Paley a successful year!

About Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America
Founded in 1896, the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America is the oldest active veterans’ organization in America. JWV is dedicated to upholding America’s democratic traditions and fighting bigotry, prejudice, injustice, and discrimination of all kinds. As a national organization, JWV represents the voice of America’s Jewish veterans on issues related to veterans’ benefits, foreign policy, and national security. JWV also commits itself to the assistance of oppressed Jews worldwide.

By Harrison Heller

“How to Fight Anti-Semitism” is a must read. Whether you are Jewish or not, this recounting of anti-Semitism and how to fight back is essential. In today’s America, where we thought anti-Semitism was an afterthought until Charlottesville and Pittsburgh, author Bari Weiss gives a chilling and thought-provoking look at this thought virus.

Before diving in to the book, it’s important to understand the meaning of anti-Semitism. According to Merriam-Webster, anti-Semitism is “hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group.” This is the correct definition, but in her book, Weiss describes anti-Semitism as “not even a solid idea or singular theory. It is a shape-shifting worldview that slithers away just as you think you have it pinned down and, in so doing, stays several steps ahead of anyone trying to clobber it.” We should also define Judaism. Is Judaism a religion? An ethnicity? A way of life? Weiss says, “Judaism is not merely a religion, and it is not merely an ethnicity. Judaism is a people. More specifically, it is a people with a language, a culture, a literature, and a particular set of ideas, beliefs, texts, and legal practices.”

Many Americans put anti-Semitism and racism in the same basket. Is anti-Semitism the same as racism or is it a subset of racism? In American society, Jews are considered white. However Weiss asks, “Were there laws in Maryland saying that Jews couldn’t hold public office? Yes. Was that the same as human beings in the Old Line State being bought and sold as property? Absolutely not.” She continues, “Are Jews barred from country clubs? Yes. But are Jews singled out and discriminated against, not least by law enforcement, because of an immutable physical characteristic? Most definitely not.” According Weiss, if anti-Semitism is a subset of racism, it whitewashes the Jewish people. The majority of Israel’s Jewish population is of Mizrahi decent (Middle Eastern and North African heritage) and 12-15 percent of America’s Jewish population is comprised of people of color. She explains the difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish prejudice. One example she gives is that of a gentile father who prefers his daughter not marry a Jew. This is anti-Jewish prejudice. However, this man does not hold the belief that the Jews hold a secret control over the government. That belief would be anti-Semitic. Weiss closes her definition of anti-Semitism by stating, “In the eyes of the racist, the person of color is inferior. In the eyes of the misogynist, the woman is something less than human. In the eyes of the anti-Semite, the Jew is… everything. He is whatever the anti-Semite needs him to be.”

One area frequently discussed is whether anti-Semitism is unique to the left or to the right. The answer is simple – it has found a home on both extreme ends of the political spectrum.

Weiss notes that on the extreme left, anti-Semitism exploits the moral fear within people. They place sole blame for the continued conflict between Israelis and Palestinians on the Jewish State. This moral fear causes some Jews to downplay their sympathies, or entirely abandon their support for Israel. The Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) Movement, focuses on getting governments around the world pull their support of Israel. The group does not protest Israeli policies, but they wish to isolate and pressure Israel until the Jewish State collapses. Omar Barghouti, co-founder of BDS said, “We oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine… [only] a sellout Palestinian would accept a Jewish state in Palestine.” Some far-left groups also use the extreme end of victimhood to shame Jewish business owners and academic leaders of their Jewishness and their support for Israel.

Those on the far-right use tactics such as fear, neo-fascism, and Nazi ideology to instill fear in the community. George Lincoln Rockwell, a U.S. Navy veteran who served during World War II and the Korean War, founded the American Nazi Party in 1959. Inspired by Black Muslims, those on the far-right started to merge religion with white supremacy, and thus gave rise to such Christian Identity groups as The Order and America’s Promise Ministries. Today, these groups have merged and found a home in what is now called “The Alt-Right.” These groups instill fear by promoting the conspiracy theory that the Jews control the government and Hollywood. Far-right white nationalist groups are starting to find homes on college campuses across the country.

On both extreme ends of the political spectrum, it is the lack of knowledge and compassion that led people down these various paths. While these sound like different paths, they are one in the same.

As far as how to fight back against anti-Semitism, I don’t wish to include any spoilers in this review, but simply encourage you to read Weiss’ book.

Volume 74. Number 1. 2020

 

By John Brady, Flagship Olympia Foundation
Board of Directors President

The year 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The first soldier buried in the Tomb served in World War I. The USS Olympia, a former Navy cruiser, brought the remains of the World War I Unknown Soldier home from Europe. His burial took place at Arlington National Cemetery on November 11, 1921. Rabbi Morris Samuel Lazaron is one of the four chaplains who participated in the service.

Two months after the United States entered World War I in April 1917, Rabbi Lazaron filled out a military registration card. The card, which can be found in the National Archives, notes Lazaron was working as a rabbi in Baltimore, Maryland at the time and supporting his wife, baby, and parents.

Additional information about Rabbi Lazaron can be found on the American Jewish Archives website. Lazaron served as a chaplain in the U.S. Army Officer’s Reserve Corps from 1917 until 1953. He was one of four military chaplains officiating at the burial of the World War I Unknown Soldier in 1921. Rabbi Lazaron died in London, England on June 5, 1979.

The Flagship Olympia Foundation is helping to plan commemoration events for 2021. We have researched Rabbi Lazaron as part of this effort. However, we want to learn more about the men who brought the World War I Unknown Soldier home from Europe. We also want to make sure the families of these service members are invited to commemoration events.

The 1921 USS Olympia crew list is located at the National Archives. We’re comparing the names on this list to information included in the Ancestry.com website. Some of the individuals and their families are easier to find because they have distinctive names. Others are not because they have the same names as several others who served during World War I.

The Flagship Olympia Foundation would appreciate the assistance of JWV members in identifying the 1921 USS Olympia crew. An electronic copy of the list is posted on our website. Are any of the men on the list your great-grandfather, grandfather, or great-uncle? If so, do you have photos or diaries about their service aboard the USS Olympia in 1921 that you would be willing to share with us?

Last year, the granddaughter of one of the members of the 1921 crew reached out to us. She shared her grandfather’s story and we now have it on our website. We’d like to do the same with other crew members. They brought home a son, grandson, nephew, and father. His name is known to no one, but his sacrifice is known to all.

Photo: Detroit Publishing Co, P., Hart, E. H., photographer. U.S.S. Olympia. , None. [Between 1895 and 1901] [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2016818457/.

Meet OLYMPIA’s 1921 Crew

Volume 74. Number 1. 2020

By Larry Katz

Veterans Day events were more than just opportunities for barbeques and family get-togethers for Congregation Shaarey Zedek (CSZ) Religious School students. A new program started this year to ensure students remember and honor Jewish veterans.

This joint venture between the CSZ Religious School and the Jewish War Veterans Department of Michigan took place on Sunday, November 18, 2019. The goal of the program is to introduce meaningful interpersonal experiences into the school’s curriculum, allowing students to learn the lessons of history proactively, educating and inspiring students about the sacrifices necessary to protect and preserve the freedoms we enjoy, and building intergenerational connections within the synagogue.

Thirty-seven students attended the three sessions at the CSZ Berman Center for Jewish Education.
In the first session, the veterans and students gathered together in the library. Veterans introduced themselves and shared stories about their military experience. Several brought photographs and other visual materials to show the students.

The second phase of the program consisted of three breakout sessions. Students were matched with veterans in a more personal setting, enabling one-on-one discussions. The veterans tailored each session to the ages of the students.

The third and final phase of this program was a return to the library with the veterans addressing any follow-up questions based on what the students had learned from the veterans and what the veterans had learned from the students.

Future local projects with CSZ and JWV will feature structured dialogue with current and former military service members and their families, field trips to military sites, cemeteries, museums, memorials. and other sites dedicated to the victims of war and genocide, and other proactive events including face-to-face dialogues with people who have devoted their lives to public service as well as those who benefitted from their sacrifice and courage.

Volume 73. Number 4. 2019

By Sheila Berg

Women are the fastest growing demographic in the military today. Most jobs are open to military women, but non-acceptance and barriers persist. Women have served as defenders of this country since the American Revolutionary War.

Deborah Sampson disguised herself and enlisted in the Continental Army as Timothy Thayer in Middleborough, Massachusetts. She was discovered and reenlisted again in 1782 as Robert Shirtliff. She joined the Light Infantry Company of the 4th Massachusetts Regiment, which was a group of elite troops. They were required to provide rapid flank coverage for advancing troops. She was wounded after serving 17 months and honorably discharged at West Point in 1792.

The Deborah Sampson Act represents her desire to serve under difficult situations. This act provides guidance for the Department of Veterans Affairs to update services for female veterans including the expansion of group counseling for veterans and family members, improving quality child care, increasing the number of days of maternity care VA facilities provide, eliminating barriers of care by increasing the number of gender-specific providers in VA facilities, and retrofitting VA facilities to enhance privacy and improve the environment where they care for female veterans. The act would also authorize additional grants for organizations that support low-income female veterans and their families, as well as improve the collection and analysis of data regarding women veterans. As the chairwoman of JWV’s Women in the Military Committee, I support the immediate passage of this legislation.

On November 12, 2019, the Deborah Sampson Act passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 399 to 11.

Volume 73. Number 4. 2019

By Harvey Weiner, National Commander

Each year the JWV National Commander flies across the pond to participate in a special Remembrance Day ceremony and parade with our British

Linda Weiner, National Commander Harvey Weiner, Ritual Director Mickey Nathanson, his wife, and PNC David Magidson at the Saturday morning services of the West London Synagogue for British Jews.

counterpart organization, AJEX. The trip typically includes a stop in Brussels for a two-day briefing at SHAPE and NATO, but the organizers canceled that stop this year due to a visit by the U.S. Secretary of State.

I still went to the ceremony in London, along with my wife Linda, Past National Commander David Magidson, and his wife Marilyn Mittentag.
The AJEX Annual Remembrance ceremony and parade takes place a week after the annual London Armistice Day parade and celebration. AJEX stands for the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and is a remarkably active organization, considering Great Britain has not been involved in any major wars since World War II. More than 1,000 people marched in the parade, and an equal number of spectators lined the parade route. Considering there are only about 260,000 Jews in all of Great Britain and 158,000 Jews in London, this attendance is noteworthy. It appears all sections of the Jewish community are supportive of AJEX.

The ceremony took place at the Cenotaph near Westminster in the center of London. During the ceremony I laid a wreath of poppies in honor of the U.S. forces who served in all theaters of war. There were also representatives from France and Israel. Linda and Marilyn escorted Renee Salt, a Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz survivor and prominent speaker about the Holocaust.

Prior to the parade, we attended a reception at the Institution of Civil Engineers headquarters, where I spread JWV’s message to everyone at each of the more than 20 tables. After the parade, the new AJEX commander hosted a dinner.

The day after the parade we toured the new American Embassy with a three-person briefing team. The leader was a Jewish Department of Defense Attaché who served as a Rear Admiral. I hope he and another one of the Jewish briefers will join JWV.

With the assistance of new JWV National Chaplain Rabbi Mark Winer, two new events were added to the London trip. The day before the parade we attended services at the West London Synagogue of British Jews, the largest Reform synagogue in Great Britain. Winer served as the rabbi there for more than a decade before his retirement.

The morning of our visit to the Embassy, we met with the David Sumberg at the Jewish Museum of London. David is a Jewish ex-member of Parliament and shared his knowledge about the status of Jews in Great Britain.

This trip is helpful in spreading the messages of JWV and enhancing relationships with Jewish veterans from other nations. I hope to complete the Brussels part of the excursion at a future date.

Volume 73. Number 4. 2019

By Deborah Josefson

A monument and square named after a Jewish American soldier lies in the town of Petange at the southwest border of the tiny country of Luxembourg, where France and Belgium meet. This soldier was my great-uncle, 2nd Lt. Hyman Josefson. He was the first American soldier to die for the liberation of Luxembourg. For 45 years he was the quintessential Unknown Soldier, but for the people of Luxembourg, he represented the ultimate sacrifice of American GIs.

Procession to Hyman Josefson Square led by Duke Henri (front center) flanked by dignitaries including Petange Mayor Pierre Molina and U.S. Ambassador J. Randolph Evans.

The people of Luxembourg commemorate their liberation from the Nazis and the sacrifice of Josefson and other American GI’s each year. Every five years, the celebrations include visits from the country’s Grand Duke, the U.S. Ambassador, and other dignitaries. As they did this September 9, the officials visit Hyman Josefson Square to lay wreaths in honor of the American troops. The liberation festivities continue with a week of pro-American parades, displays of vintage World War II military vehicles, American-style barbeques and Rockabilly music festivals.

Josefson was a first generation American and one of 550,000 GI Jews. These Jewish American men felt their service in World War II was both an act of patriotism and a fight against Hitler for the survival of their brethren.

An accomplished lawyer and engineer, Josefson was already 32 when he voluntarily enlisted just six weeks after Pearl Harbor.
Josefson was born in South Fallsburg, New York in 1909 to Harry and Lena Josefson of Iasi, Romania. He entered Cornell University at age 15 on an academic scholarship with a perfect score on the state scholarship exam. After graduating in 1929 with a civil engineering degree, Josefson stayed at Cornell for another two years to receive his law degree.

As a young lawyer, he argued before the New York State Supreme Court and Court of Appeals on matters of interstate commerce and transportation.
When the U.S. entered World War II, Josefson enlisted in the Army. He trained at Fort Knox and joined the 5th Armored Division’s 85th Calvary Reconnaissance Squadron. After two years of training in the U.S., his unit landed at Utah Beach on July 24, 1944. They marched through Normandy and Northern France, reaching the Belgian border by September 2.

Hyman Josefson

Luxembourg’s Prince Felix and Crown Prince Jean joined the allies, and by September 7 they were fighting alongside the 5th Armored Division, gearing up for a return to their homeland.

As a platoon leader and car commander of the 85th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, Josefson was an advance man. His mission was to find, fix, and fight. In other words, to ascertain the strength and disposition of the enemy, remove obstacles, and clear the way for further combat.
On September 9, 1944, by mid-day, Josefson’s armored M8 Greyhound Patrol car is the first to breach the Belgian border and enter Petange, Luxembourg. But the celebratory air is severely dampened when a hidden Wehrmacht cannon hits Josefson’s Greyhound just as it approaches a flour mill. Josefson is killed, and three others in his car were wounded.

Gunner Cyril Mayrose, technical sergeant and driver Burt Magee, and radio operator John Mitchell escaped the car, which continued to burn for days.
The crowd that saw it happen erected a makeshift memorial near the flour mill.

Meanwhile, the Americans pushed on and liberated Luxembourg City on September 10, returning Prince Felix and Prince Jean to the Grand Duchy.
In 1947, a permanent monument replaced the makeshift memorial. The inscription honored the memory of the unknown American soldier who died for the liberation of Luxembourg.

In 1989, Mayrose told the city that their unknown soldier was Josefson, which lead the city to change the name of the area by the monument to Hyman Josefson Square.

75 years later in Luxembourg, World War II is not forgotten, Americans are warmly received, and the legacy of Hyman Josefson lives on.

Volume 73. Number 3. 2019

By Cara Rinkoff

JWV Member Allan Silverberg biked 60 miles in just one day to honor the memory of those who died in the Holocaust. The 75-year-old Silverberg

From left, Unknown, Krakow JCC Executive Director Jonathan Ornstein, and Allan Silverberg.

took part in the 5th annual Ride for the Living in Poland on June 28, which is sponsored by the Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Krakow. A total of 250 cyclists rode their bikes from Auschwitz to the Krakow JCC.

“We started in the morning and then finished in the evening, and that evening was also very eventful. They had about 700 people at a Shabbat dinner,” Silverberg said. According to the Krakow JCC, each year the dinner serves as the largest gathering of Jews on Shabbat in the city since before World War II.

Silverberg found out about the ride from the JCC director, whom he met seven years ago during his first trip to Poland. Silverberg said he has never done anything like this ride before. “I do bike, but never that far… the most I’ve ever done is about 45, maybe 48, but never 60 [miles].”

Silverberg said he received support from his local community, as well as people he had never met before. “Some people contributed just by wishing me good luck, and some people contributed by being very generous donors. I raised almost $4,100.”

Bernard Offen is one of the riders Silverberg met in Poland. Silverberg said Offen walked from Auschwitz to Krakow when the camp was liberated. This is the second year the 90-year-old has participated in the Ride for the Living.

Silverberg chose to participate in this event because he wanted to visit the hometown of his parents. Stopnica is approximately one hour from Krakow. Silverberg said nearly all traces of Jewish life in that town were erased during the war and in the years after. “I wanted to see something that I was going to be able to relate to, like maybe even see a cemetery,” Silverberg said. “When I got there, we couldn’t find the cemetery itself. We even asked an elderly taxi driver there and he didn’t even know anything about any Jewish history… at least he wasn’t, wouldn’t tell us about that.”

Silverberg also participated in the ride because of his general interest in the Holocaust. He runs Holocaust education programs which had 15,000 attendees over the past two years.

If you are interested in participating in next year’s Ride for the Living, you can find more information on the website, www.ridefortheliving.org.

Volume 73. Number 3. 2019

By Harvey Weiner,
Former JWV National Judge Advocate

here is an old legal adage that bad cases make bad law. It was clear from the start that filing a lawsuit to remove the 40-foot World War I memorial cross in Bladensburg, Maryland was the wrong case at the wrong time. Nevertheless, the American Humanist Association (AHA) brought the case without input from the JWV. If the very conservative U.S. Supreme Court took the case, it was likely the Court would either ignore it or overturn decades of favorable legal precedents, which were mainly achieved by the JWV.

Once the Supreme Court took the case, JWV had no choice but to submit an amicus (friend of court) brief to have its voice heard. There were seven other amicus briefs in addition to the ones filed by the AHA and JWV.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which had represented the JWV in prior war memorial cross cases declined to participate. The law firm of Jenner & Block and the Chicago Law School stepped in to help the JWV.

The JWV brief mentioned that Jewish-Americans had served in all of America’s wars and through the Vietnam War, served in greater numbers than their proportion in the general population, that JWV is the country’s oldest active veterans service organization, that approximately 250,000 Jewish-Americans served in World War I, and that 3,500 Jewish-Americans died in that war. The case was argued on February 27, 2019. That morning, the JWV National Judge Advocate spoke at the Honor Them All rally in front of the courthouse. During arguments, Justice Brett Kavanaugh referenced the JWV amicus brief in one of his questions, which is highly unusual.

On June 20, 2019 the Supreme Court issued its decision which, as expected, allows the cross to remain in place. The majority opinion, concurring opinion, and dissenting opinion all mentioned the JWV amicus brief.

This case helped publicize JWV’s purpose of affirming Jewish-American presence in all of America’s wars.

Both the majority and the dissent quoted from John McCrae’s famous World War I poem “In Flanders Fields,” the first stanza of which is as follows:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt drawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

After the SCOTUS decision, a revised version might read as follows:

In Bladensburg, a cross did stand
Between three streets on public land
That honor those killed in World War One,
Who, through Christ, will live anon
Though not so those who don’t believe.
We are the Court. So do not grieve.
We worked. Seven opinions did we weave.
The cross may stand, though it offends,
In Bladensburg

Volume 73. Number 3. 2019

By Larry Jasper

U.S. military veterans have a new memorial 40-feet beneath the ocean’s surface where they can reflect on their service. The first underwater military

Shawn Campbell, a former staff sergeant and now a master diver, looks at his name on a plaque next to one of the statues at the Circle of Heroes underwater veterans memorial off the coast of Clearwater, Fla. (U.S. Army/Video still by Bill Mills)

monument is located just ten miles off the coast of Clearwater, Florida. The Circle of Heroes Veterans’ Memorial, opened August 5 with a ceremony debuting a dozen life-size statues depicting U.S. military personnel from all branches of service.

Eventually the memorial site will include 24 life-size concrete statues of men and women from the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps., and Navy, according to Brighter Future Florida, a nonprofit group raising donations for the memorial.

The memorial is scheduled to be completed in 2020. All of the statues will surround a center monument featuring five bronze emblems representing each service.

“The Circle of Heroes will be a premier international diving destination and will also serve as a place where veterans with physical and mental injuries can heal,” the website states.

The JWV Department of Florida, in conjunction with Rabbi Elson of the Jewish Welfare Board are planning to dive the memorial in January. If you would like to join the dive, contact Larry Jasper at lmjasper@reagan.com.

Volume 73. Number 3. 2019