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Mission accomplished

Jewish chaplains’ memorial gets congressional go-ahead

 
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Two years ago, Caldwell resident Sol Moglen learned that while there were monuments to Protestant and Catholic chaplains at Arlington National Cemetery, there were none for this country’s Jewish chaplains.

Moglen set out to change that.

With Westchester resident Ken Kraetzer, he spearheaded a fundraising effort to create a memorial. And with artist Debora Jackson, he designed one.

The fundraising campaign raised $50,000.

And Monday night, the House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill allowing the monument to be built at Arlington.

“It was a great night,” said Moglen, the morning after the congressional vote, which he watched from the gallery.

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Planned memorial for Jewish chaplains.

On Thursday night, the Senate approved the measure as well.

Now, Moglen can go ahead and order the granite for the memorial, which he hopes to be able to dedicate in September. He said that area Jewish War Veterans posts plan to send busloads of veterans from New Jersey to the dedication.

When Moglen began working on the project, he thought the challenge was only raising money. He spoke before JWV groups in New York, New Jersey, and Florida and solicited contributions. Firefighter and police groups also contributed.

Then he discovered that it wasn’t enough just to raise money. Rules for placing monuments at Arlington had been tightened, requiring congressional action before the cemetery’s art commission could approve a monument.

For help in navigating the Washington legislative process, he turned to Rabbi Harold Robinson of the JWB Jewish Chaplains Council, and to the Washington office of the Jewish Federations of North America.

Robinson, who served as a chaplain in the Marines and Navy and has the rank of admiral, was an important lobbying asset.

“It’s amazing how, when you walk in with an admiral, the doors open up for you. Even if you’re a Jewish admiral,” said Moglen.

Locally, the Jewish War Veterans lobbied the New York and New Jersey congressional delegations. The House measure was introduced by New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, and the many co-sponsors included the representatives from northern New Jersey.

“I am proud to support this important bill to honor the memory of Jewish chaplains who died while serving on active duty in the United States armed forces,” said Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5).

“This memorial is long overdue, but nonetheless very welcome,” said Rep. Steve Rothman (D-9).

Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-8) stressed the importance of chaplains for the many soldiers for whom “faith plays such an integral part in whether they successful in battle, whether they meet their objectives, whether they survive the ordeal of war. This long-delayed memorial will be an expression of a nation’s gratitude to our Jewish chaplains who gave their lives while keeping the faith of American soldiers alive.We will never know, in any tangible sense, the impact these brave and selfless chaplains had on Americans who fought in defense of our country. Only God knows the full breadth of their service. We only know that the United States of America would not be the nation it is today without them.”

For his part, Moglen is still amazed to have heard his name mentioned on the floor of Congress. And he is proud to be fixing the slight to Jewish chaplains that began with the erection of the monument to their Protestant counterparts in 1981.

“Persistency worked,” said Moglen. “You just have to have enough kayach to do it.”

 

More on: Mission accomplished

 
 
 

In the service of their faith and their country

The most famous Jewish chaplain to fall in the line of duty was also the first.

Rabbi Alexander Goode was on board the U.S.S. Dorchester on Feb. 3, 1943, headed to England, when it was struck by German torpedoes off the coast of Greenland.

With three other chaplains — one Catholic, one Methodist, one Presbyterian — Goode stood on the deck of the sinking ship, helping to hand out life vests and calm the troops. When life vests ran out, the four chaplains handed their vests to four other soldiers. When the ship went down, they were last seen linked arm in arm, praying.

 
 

Thirteen chaplains: A full report

Full biographical sketches of the 13 Jewish chaplains who died on active duty in the U.S. military, courtesy of Jewish Federations of North America:
 
 
 
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Stay tuned for the return of comments

 

‘It’s valuable to hear both sides’

Ridgewood man discusses Israeli, Palestinian narratives

Jonathan Emont — a 2008 graduate of Ridgewood High School who celebrated his bar mitzvah at the town’s Temple Israel and Jewish Community Center — always has felt a deep attachment to the state of Israel.

Still, the 23-year-old said, he never expected that country to be at the center of his professional life.

Things changed, however, when the recent Swarthmore College graduate went to Israel on a tour the America-Israel Friendship League offered to young journalists.

“I did journalism in college,” he said, explaining that although he majored in history, he also was the editor of Swarthmore’s Daily Gazette.

 

Walling off, reaching out

Teaneck shul offers discussion of Women of the Wall

It is not an understatement to say that the saga of Women of the Wall is a metaphor for much of the struggle between tradition and change in Israel.

Founded 25 years ago by a group of Israeli and non-Israeli women whose religious affiliations ran from Orthodox to Reform, it has been a flashpoint for the fight for pluralism in Israel, as one side would define it, or the obligation to hold onto God-given mandates on the other.

As its members and supporters fought for the right to hold services in the women’s section, raising their voices in prayer, and later to wear tallitot and read from sifrei Torah, and as their opponents grew increasingly violent in response, it came to define questions of synagogue versus state and showcase both the strengths and the flaws of Israel’s extraordinary parliamentary system. It also highlighted rifts between American and Israeli Jews.

 

Yet more Pew

Local rabbis talk more about implications of look at American Jews

The Pew Research Center’s study of American Jews, released last October, really is the gift that keeps on giving.

As much as the Jewish community deplores the study’s findings, it seems to exert a magnetic pull over us, as if it were the moon and we the obedient tides. We can’t seem to stop talking about it. (Of course, part of that appeal is the license it gives us to talk, once again, about ourselves. We fascinate ourselves endlessly.)

That is why we found ourselves at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly last Wednesday night, with the next in the seemingly endless series of snow-and-ice storms just a few hours away, discussing the Pew study yet again.

 

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Israel launching drive to void Goldstone Report

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Netanyahu said he had asked his security adviser, Ya’akov Amidror, to establish a committee focused on “minimizing the damage caused” by the report.

 

Facebook and Zuckerberg does an about-face and deletes Palestinian page calling for a Third Intifada

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According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  “Third Palestinian Intifada.”

 

Did heated rhetoric play role in shooting of Giffords?

WASHINGTON – The 8th District in southern Arizona represented by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords comprises liberal Tucson and its rural hinterlands, which means moderation is a must. But it also means that spirits and tensions run high.

Giffords’ office in Tucson was ransacked in March following her vote for health care reform — a vote the Democrat told reporters that she would cast even if it meant her career. She refused to be cowed, but she also took aim at the hyped rhetoric. She cast the back-and-forth as part of the democratic process.

 
 
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