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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

By Greg Byrne

The Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. held its 124th National Convention in Richmond, Virginia, while the JWV Ladies Auxiliary met for their 91st National Convention. Delegates from around the country gathered from August 18-23 to hear from speakers, participate in workshops, and conduct the business of the organization.

Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Byrne gave the keynote address and updated members on current initiatives at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). He spoke about a period of transformation happening at the VA with four priorities set by Secretary Robert Wilkie. The priorities include improving customer service, implementing the VA Mission Act, systems modernization, and collaborating with the Department of Defense (DOD) to implement an electronic medical records system. Secretary Byrne said the Mission Act has offered veterans choice in their healthcare decisions by allowing them to seek care in their communities when their nearest VA facility is too far away or doesn’t offer a service. He also highlighted the importance of the collaboration between the VA and DOD to give caregivers a complete view of a patient’s medical history, beginning with their initial exam in boot camp.

Retired Navy Rear Adm. Paul Becker reflected on his 30 years of service as a Naval Intelligence Officer. A member of Commodore Levy Post 380 in Annapolis, Maryland, Becker spoke about leadership and how his Jewish faith inspired him to serve.

Rabbi Irv Elson, Director of the Jewish Welfare Board Jewish Chaplains Council (JWB), spoke to the convention about an exciting new collaboration between the JWB and JWV. The Jews in Green Weekend will bring together Jewish military personnel for fellowship, to share resources, and to build a community, so that when these Jews leave the military, we’ll be able to connect them with their local JWV post or JCC.

Major General Baruch Levy, formerly of Tzevet, the Israel Defense Forces veterans’ organization, gave a briefing on the current situation in Israel and outlined some of his country’s many achievements. Israel is at the center of advancements in medicine and technology, and ranks among the happiest nations in the world. He noted that Jewish Americans should take pride in Israel’s achievements because the unity between the State of Israel and the Jewish American community has been of great importance to Israel’s success.

The Military Coalition President Jack DuTeil continued the discussion on Israel by talking about his experience on this year’s Allied Veterans Mission to Israel. He described the Mission as “the trip of a lifetime.” The trip left him with a lasting appreciation for the people of Israel and the importance of the Israeli/American alliance in the region.

In addition to hearing from speakers, delegates participated in workshops where they could learn skills to help lead their posts and departments when they returned home. Past Department Commander Alan Paley of the Department of Florida and Post Commander Steven Krant of Post 256 in Dallas led a session on leadership, where they discussed best practices for department and post management. The workshop was well-received, and plans are in place for a follow-up session at NEC in February.

A fundraising session led by Lauren Gross of Global Impact provided attendees with fundraising strategies to help support their echelons’ programs. More information on this session can be found in the Membership section of this issue.

The Resolutions Committee met several times to consider proposed resolutions to bring to the convention floor for a vote. Twenty of these proposals were approved at the convention and will be part of JWV’s legislative priorities for the coming year. A complete list of the resolutions passed at convention can be found on our website.

Delegates also considered several proposed amendments to the National Constitution and Bylaws. After a review by the Constitution and Bylaws Committee, the convention approved two constitutional amendments and one amendment to the bylaws. Further explanation of these changes can be found in National Commander Harvey Weiner’s article in this issue.

The final event of the convention was the National Commander’s Banquet honoring outgoing National Commander Barry Schneider. During his term, Schneider travelled more than 71,000 miles and visited members in 22 state. The evening concluded with the installation of the new National Commander, Harvey Weiner of the Department of Massachusetts.

Thank you to all who participated in this year’s convention, and we hope to see you next August in Jacksonville, Florida.

Volume 73. Number 3. 2019

Jersey Shore Post 125 represented the JWV with a tent at the 29th annual Oceanfest celebration on July Fourth in Long Branch, New Jersey. An estimated 225,000 people attended the event, and many stopped by Post 125’s tent to express their appreciation for the service of Jewish veterans. More than 20 volunteers manned the tent that day, including officers from National, the Department of New Jersey, and the Ladies Auxiliary. Oceanfest served as the season finale for Post 125’s year of activities.

The Post decided not to brave the cold weather, and moved its traditional Veterans Day Poppy Drive to Labor Day in 2018. Dedicated volunteers sold poppies at multiple locations, exceeding fundraising expectations. The money raised from the sales allows Post 125 to continue supporting programs and assisting the residents of New Jersey veterans’ homes.

Post activities during the fall months honored surviving World War II veterans with speakers from both Monmouth County’s active veteran services office and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. On Veterans Day, Post 125’s Gerald Levine, who serves as the Honorary Commander of the Department of New Jersey, lead a 21-bell salute in the city of Long Branch, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the World War I armistice. That ceremony also included a reading of the names of the victims from the shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue.

Following a winter slowdown, Post 125 hosted another World War II veterans’ event and ran an extremely successful Memorial Day poppy drive. The Post elected Levine as Honorary Post Commander, while the Department of New Jersey named Post 125 as its Post of the Year, and further honored Levine as its Person of the Year.

Volume 73. Number 3. 2019

By Sheldon A. Goldberg, Ph.D.

Before the remodeling of the National Museum of American Jewish Military History several years ago, an exhibit called “The Liberators” featured American GI’s who came in contact with the effects of the Holocaust as they marched across Nazi Germany. Unfortunately all that remains of that exhibit are several recordings made by a few of the liberators describing what they saw and experienced. This confrontation with the Holocaust, even for those Jewish GI’s who saw the horrors inflicted on the dead and those who survived, was for the most part a foreign and impersonal experience.
The approximately 300,000-500,000 Soviet Jews who served in the Red Army felt a personal connection to the ravages of the Holocaust they encountered. These soldiers saw their homes, towns, and villages destroyed, as well as the murders of their families, friends, and relatives. It engendered in them a deep hated of the Nazis, and a desire for revenge at all costs. Furthermore, their contact with the results of the Holocaust undermined the Soviet propaganda that there was no such thing as a Jewish nation, nor could there be.

This change of attitude became evident to many of them, including those who had no Jewish or religious upbringing. It became evident as they experienced anti-Semitism at the front, and in the ruined towns and villages they liberated from the Nazis, where surviving neighbors looted homes after Jewish families were taken away and murdered. They saw the remnants of Jewish books and scrolls, pages that were filled with what one Russian historian called “square letters,” used to wrap produce and other items for sale or disposal. It was these “square letters” that drew thousands of Jewish Red Army soldiers together, many of whom had no knowledge of the Hebrew alphabet, as they became symbols of Jews murdered by the Nazis.

These are only a small portion of what one learns from this book, which contains a collection of essays that was presented at a conference sponsored by the U.S. Holocaust Museum, the Blatavnik Foundation, and the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. Contributors to this volume describe the participation of Soviet Jews as soldiers, journalists, and propagandists combatting the Nazis during what the Russians call the Great Patriotic War (June, 22, 1941-May 9, 1945). The essays include newly discovered and previously neglected oral testimony, poetry, cinema, diaries, memoirs, newspapers, and archives. The importance of these sources lies in the fact that except for poets and writers, Red Army soldiers were forbidden to keep dairies or take notes of what they saw and experienced during the war.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part includes a chapter on the writing and personal thoughts of Russia’s most famous journalist, Ilya Ehrenburg. Part two includes conference papers that analyze the works of various Soviet Jewish poets, including Boris Slutskii and Il’ia Sel’vinskii, the film “The Unvanquished,” the work of Russia’s best known photojournalist, Evgenii Khaldei, and several memoirs. The excellent essays by the various authors presented in the volume do not necessarily portray a unified vision of the Soviet Red Army Jews. It does however, take the reader on an emotional journey through the eyes of the Russian Jews who lived and died during the Great Patriotic War.

Soviet Jews in World War II: Fighting,
Witnessing, Remembering
Edited by Harriet Murav and Gennady Estraikh
Brighton MA: Academic Studies Press, 2014
214 pages with index
Available at the NMAJMH online store

Volume 73. Number 3. 2019

The Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America (JWV) is joining with others in The Military Coalition to call on Congress to protect the interests of service members in the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The JWV wants to ensure the NDAA includes among other items, a pay raise for members of the military, the elimination of medical billets, and elimination of the Survivor Benefit Plan/Dependency Indemnity Compensation offset.

The Military Coalition, along with JWV has sent a letter highlighting these priorities for the NDAA to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.   Please click here for a copy of the letter.

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.

The Jewish War Veterans of the USA is delighted to announce that Harvey Weiner was elected National Commander at the 124th Annual National Convention in Richmond, Virginia.

Harvey served as the National Judge Advocate since 2013.  He previously served on the National Executive Committee, as Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Committee and as Vice President of the National Court.  He is the past Commander of the Massachusetts Department and past Post Commander of the Newton-Brookline Post #211.  He is a life member of the JWV, the Vietnam Veterans of America and the Disabled American Veterans.  He is a life member of and General Counsel to the National Museum of American Jewish Military History.

Harvey is a Vietnam War combat veteran, who, as an Army Captain, was an intelligence advisor to the Vietnamese.  His combat experience includes small raids, night ambushes, mortar and rocket attacks, sniper fire and land mines.  He was the recipient of the Bronze Star (M) among other decorations.  After the war, he returned to Ft. Dix, N.J., where he defended 38 courts martial and was a Chief Investigating Officer.

Harvey is a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Accredited Attorney and is admitted to both the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.  He has been trained and certified as a veterans’ mediator and has assisted in the training of other veterans’ mediators.

Harvey is active in the Jewish community. He is past president of Temple Beth Avodah in Newton and was on its Executive Board for 25 years.  He has been the JWV representative on the Greater Boston Jewish Community Relations Council for 13 years.

Harvey has practiced civil litigation in Boston at Peabody & Arnold for over 47 years.  He is president of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation and past president of the Federal Bar Association (Mass. Chapter), the Boston Inn of Court, and the Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association.

Harvey has been married for over 52 years to Linda, who was a Waiting Wife, has two adult children, one granddog and lives in Newton, Massachusetts.

We wish Harvey a successful year!

Post: Col. Irving Heymont Post 299

Current Residence: Hedgesville, WV

Military Service: West Point class of ’03 (Mickey Marcus award recipient from JWV), United States Army, Infantry Platoon Leader and Civil Affairs Officer in Iraq (OIF 05-07) with 2-8 Infantry, 4th ID

Member Since Year: 2003

1. What drove you to join the military?

The examples of service from my family and a desire to be part of something bigger than myself. Both my grandfathers served in the Army. My father’s dad, Sam Scheinberg, was a combat engineer in WW2 and helped to liberate France and concentration camps in France and Germany. Both of my parents served in a different way as public educators. I joined the Army through West Point and my younger brother, Joshua, joined the Air Force shortly after 9/11.

2. How did you get introduced to JWV?

I knew of JWV through my grandfather, but really got to know the organization and members as a cadet at West Point. JWV truly helped me get through West Point by building a community at the Jewish Chapel on Post. Members, many who served in WW2, Korea, and Vietnam would sponsor our weekly Shabbat dinners, Sunday bagels, and would always provide mentorship as a group of folks who have been through what we were facing. My wife, Natasha, and I were later married at the West Point Jewish Chapel.

3. What was your most memorable Jewish experience while serving?

Flying from Haswah, Iraq, to Baghdad to meet up with the only Jewish chaplain in Iraq and helping to put on a Passover Seder for Jewish soldiers across theatre. The best part was seeing Jewish West Point graduates who I knew as cadets coming together from bases and outposts all over Iraq.

4. Is there a piece of legislation coming before Congress that you find that will best serve our veterans?

One of the highlights of my career in service is working for Senator Manchin on Veterans legislation. Senator Manchin has been on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee since he was first elected and is very active on veterans issues as West Virginia has one of the highest rates of military service in the country. Right now, a big focus of ours is on economic opportunities for veterans and suicide prevention.

5. What is your favorite movie and does it relate with your experience in the military?

There Will be Blood. I don’t think it relates to my military service, it’s just an awesome movie.

6. Who is your favorite superhero and why?

It’s always been Superman for me. When I was in high school, I won 7 gold medals in the Maccabee Games as a sprinter on the track & field team. I wore a Superman shirt after every event and folks started calling me “The Fastest Jew in America”

7. What is your favorite traditional Jewish food?

Everything bagel, veggie cream cheese, and lox with a side of creamed herring.