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entries tagged with: Sol Moglen


Campaign seeks to raise monument in Arlington to Jewish chaplains

After the Nazis torpedoed the U.S. transport ship Dorchester in February 1943, Rabbi Alexander Goode and the three Christian chaplains on board gave up their own life preservers to help other servicemen to escape.

As a result of their heroic acts, Goode, Methodist Rev. George L. Fox, the Roman Catholic Priest John P. Washington, and the Reformed Church in America Rev. Clark V. Poling drowned as the ship sank.

All four chaplains were posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross, and Congress created The Four Chaplains’ Medal in 1960. At Arlington National Cemetery, however, where three memorials stand in honor of military chaplains, Goode’s name is not to be found, nor has any memorial been erected for this country’s Jewish chaplains.

Sol Moglen of Caldwell is working to change that.

The monuments at Arlington are in a section called Chaplains Hill. The first monument was created on May 5, 1926, by a group of chaplains who served in World War I, and dedicated to 23 chaplains who died in that war. In 1981, a memorial to 134 Protestant chaplains was dedicated, and in 1989, a monument to 83 Catholic chaplains who died in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam was created.

Moglen learned of the missing Jewish memorial last year from Ken Kraetzer, a Westchester resident who is a member of the Sons of the American Legion. Now the pair are spearheading a fund-raising effort through The Association of Jewish Chaplains of the Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs to create a memorial, designed by Moglen and Brooklyn artist Debora Jackson, to the Jewish chaplains who died in World War II and Vietnam. (No Jewish chaplains’ deaths in other wars have been recorded.)

“This way the whole country knows about what we’re doing,” Moglen said. “It’s the cemetery of our presidents. It’s the cemetery of so many special people and now we have a chance to put something special there to honor our chaplains.”

They have collected more than $17,000 of their $30,000 goal and plan to erect a monument at Chaplains Hill in the fall. The response, according to fund-raisers, has been tremendous.

“It’s in our tradition to give,” said Richard Manberg of Hackensack, who has been helping Moglen publicize the project locally. “When people hear about a noble cause like this, they give.”

Manberg has been making contacts with synagogues and Jewish War Veterans groups because Moglen, he said, wants to focus on individuals and small groups, rather than go to large foundations for help.

“What’s very noble about this is he doesn’t want any big donors,” Manberg said. “He wants small donations so everybody feels a part of it. We want to give back and that’s what Sol’s trying to do. Those people dedicated their lives to other people.”

Moglen, who served in the U.S. Army in the late 1950s, recalled meeting a Jewish chaplain while stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. It was just before Rosh HaShanah, and the chaplain arranged dinners for Moglen.

“It was a wonderful experience for somebody 18 years old,” Moglen said. “It was a wonderful thing how the chaplains took care of us. It’s not just the Jewish chaplains, but all the chaplains are there to help.”

Sy Lazar, a member of Jewish War Veterans Lt. James Platt Post 651 in Fair Lawn, was shocked when he learned from Manberg that there was no memorial at Arlington for Jewish chaplains. He intends to present the project to his JWV chapter and propose that it make a donation.

“This is like an oversight,” Lazar said. “We had no idea about this. It’s a shanda.”

Lazar had never noticed that a memorial was missing during his visits to Arlington, and, he said, he was sure other Jewish veterans were unaware of the lack as well.

“I consider this personally a very, very worthwhile charity,” he said. “I hope to spread the word as much as I can about it.”

The response to the project, according to Rear Adm. Rabbi Harold Robinson, director of the Association of Jewish Chaplains of the Armed Forces and Veterans Administration, has been “overwhelming.”

How to help
For more information about or to contribute to the memorial fund, call Sol Moglen at (201) 415-1141 or write to The Association of Jewish Chaplains of the Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs, 520 Eighth Ave., 4th floor. New York, N.Y. 10018.

“What a wonderful idea,” he said. It is “long overdue. Let’s get this done.”

Robinson credited Kraetzer of the Sons of the American Legion, who, he said, pulled together “an ad hoc group” of Jewish War Veterans, chaplains’ organizations, and rabbis. In addition to serving as the treasurer for the monument effort, the Association of Jewish Chaplains has also been coordinating with Arlington National Cemetery, which Robinson said has been very helpful in moving along the approval process.

“I agreed that this was an appropriate addition to Chaplains Hill at Arlington and we have been working to assist [the group] with this request,” said John Metzler, superintendent of the cemetery, in an e-mail to The Jewish Standard on Wednesday.

Jews have a long history of military service in this country, dating back to the Civil War. According to the Association of Jewish Chaplains, 8,500 Jews out of a population of 150,000 fought in the Civil War. More than 250,000 signed up to serve during World War I, and more than 550,000 served in World War II. More than 300 rabbis volunteered during World War II and worked with survivors in the Nazi concentration camps.

“Chaplains are doing wonderful mitzvahs that should not be forgotten,” Moglen said. “If we don’t [put up this monument] in our generation now it’ll never get done.”


Mission accomplished

In the service of their faith and their country

Larry YudelsonLocal | World
Published: 27 May 2011

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.

Of the 900 men aboard the ship, only 229 survived.

The heroism of the four chaplains made a mark during the war and after. They received posthumous medals for heroism and were the subject of a 1948 postage stamp with the caption “interfaith in action.”

The incident “still provides an example of a coming-together, that Jews can be and are equally American to any other faith group,” said Kevin M. Schultz, a history professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago whose book “Tri-Faith America: How Catholics and Jews Held Postwar America to Its Protestant Promise” was published by Oxford University Press last month.

“When searching for an example of why Jews should be included into America’s civil religion, there is hardly a better example out there for bravery, sacrifice, and inclusion than the story of Rabbi Goode and the four chaplains,” he said.

Here are the other chaplains, as listed and described by Monday’s congressional resolution providing for a memorial to them at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia:

• Army Chaplain Rabbi Herman Rosen died in service of his faith and his country on June 18, 1943.

• His son, Air Force Chaplain Solomon Rosen, also died in service of his faith and his country, on Nov. 2, 1948.

• Army Chaplain Rabbi Henry Goody died in service of his faith and his country on Oct. 19, 1943.

• Army Chaplain Rabbi Samuel Hurwitz died in service of his faith and his country on Dec. 9, 1943.

• Army Chaplain Rabbi Irving Tepper was killed in action in France on Aug. 13, 1944.

Chaplain Tepper also saw combat in Morocco, Tunisia, and Sicily while attached to an infantry combat team in the Ninth Division.

• Army Chaplain Rabbi Louis Werfel died on Dec. 24, 1944, at the young age of 27, in a plane crash while en route to conduct Chanukah services.

Chaplain Werfel was known as “The Flying Rabbi” because his duties required traveling great distances by plane to serve Army personnel of Jewish faith at outlying posts.

• Army Chaplain Rabbi Nachman Arnoff died in service of his faith and his country on May 9, 1946.

• Army Chaplain Rabbi Frank Goldenberg died in service of his faith and his country on May 22, 1946.

• Air Force Chaplain Rabbi Samuel Rosen died in service of his faith and his country on May 13, 1955.

• Army Chaplain Rabbi Meir Engel died at the Naval Hospital in Saigon, Vietnam, on Dec. 16, 1964, after faithfully serving his country during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

• Army Chaplain Rabbi Morton Singer died on Dec. 17, 1968, in a plane crash while on a mission in Vietnam to conduct Chanukah services.

• Air Force Chaplain Rabbi David Sobel died in service of his faith and his country on March 7, 1974.


Mission accomplished

Jewish chaplains’ memorial gets congressional go-ahead

Larry YudelsonLocal | World
Published: 27 May 2011

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.

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.”

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