Veterans visitors speaking at the RAC

Commemorating Veterans’ Day at the RAC

Have you ever heard of Asher Levy? Solomon Bush? David Urbansky? Abraham Krotoshinsky? Or Mark Evnin? How about Jerry Wolf? Or David B Meyers?

All of these men served in the American armed forces. All of these men are Jewish. And, all of these men have added to the honorable legacy of Jewish contributions to American military history.

Asher Levy was among the group of Jews that petitioned Peter Stuyvesant in New Amsterdam in 1654 for the right to serve in the city’s defense forces. Lieutenant Colonel Solomon Bush was the highest ranking Jewish soldier in the revolutionary war. Francis Salvador, nicknamed the “Paul Revere of the South,” warned colonists of an impending attack by Cherokee Indians, incited by the British. He was the first Jewish soldier to be killed in the Revolutionary War. David Urbansky served in the Union Army during the Civil War, and received the Medal of Honor for bravery in the Battles of Shiloh and Vicksburg. Private Abraham Krotoshinsky was a soldier in the First World War and saved his battalion – known as the “Lost Battalion” – when they were surrounded by German forces. Krotoshinsky was able to sneak through the German lines to report to his division and save the battalion. Corporal Mark Evnin was the first Jewish soldier to be killed in action in Iraq.

Staff Sergeant Jerry Wolf served in the Army Air Corps in World War II, and flew 25 missions over Germany. On June 6, 1944, “D-Day,” Sergeant Wolf was shot down over Germany and was captured by the Luftwaffe. He spent a year in Stalag IV before being liberated in 1945. David B. Meyers served five years as a Marine pilot in Vietnam and four years as a reservist, retiring a First Lieutenant.

The RAC was honored to be joined by Sergeant Wolf and Lieutenant Meyers on Monday for a Veterans Day lunch and discussion. Lieutenant Meyers founded Post 95 of the Jewish War Veterans nine months ago and serves as the post commander; Sergeant Wolf is also a member.

Both JWV Post Commander Meyers and Sergeant Wolf shared stories of their experiences as Jewish members of the armed forces. Sergeant Wolf highlighted the fact that WWII was a watershed moment for equal rights in the military: women, minorities and Jews (as well as other religious minorities) were treated equally for what seemed like the first time. The need was so great for men and women to support the military, and the necessity of collective action was so deeply felt and understood that victory against the Axis Powers outweighed internal divisions.

They also touched on what it felt like to be not just another soldier, but constantly reminded that their behavior might reflect on other Jews. Reticence to participate in some missions might help foster stereotypes of Jews as cowards.

After lunch, RAC staff and our guests were taken on a guided tour of the National Museum of American Jewish Military History. We were able to glean greater insight into the role that Jews have played in the military throughout American history.

For those of us who have grown up in times of war without a draft, our connection to veterans’ issues is often from a grandparent or older relative who served in WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, or during other conflicts in contemporary history. We shared stories of our family members who served, all recognizing that in honoring Jewish veterans, we are honoring our families, as well as an important legacy of heroes, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, who have stood on the front lines of freedom and fought for American values.

Jewish tradition teaches “Do not separate yourself from the community” (Pirkei Avot 2:6). On Veterans Day, we are reminded not to separate others from the community. Regardless of personal feelings about the wars in which these brave men and women serve, respect and pride in their courage and resolve comes naturally. Too often the veteran population is ignored, or their needs are not addressed properly; connecting with our guests on Veterans Day reminds us at the RAC of our connection to Jewish veterans and all veterans. We all have a responsibility to each other, and to making this world a better, safer place for ourselves and the generations to come.

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Sarah Greenberg

About Sarah Greenberg

Sarah Greenberg is the Senior Legislative Assistant at the RAC. She graduated in 2013 from Cornell University, and is originally from New York, NY. Sarah was an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant in 2013-2014.

5 Responses to “Commemorating Veterans’ Day at the RAC”

  1. Rabbi Hanoch Fields Reply November 18, 2013 at 4:03 am

    This is Rabbi Hanoch Fields, a chaplain and Lietenant Colonel in the US Army. Here in Kabul, Afghanistan we had a Remembrance Day/Veterans Day ceremony with clergy of five nations and participation from 16 NATO nations.

    • We wish to live without any war.
      Lots of citizens were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
      I am feeling so regretful.
      Who can understand me?
      I am alone talking about the peace in the USA army.

      Chaplain Esther Nana Fields


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