By Judie Jacobson ~
ARLINGTON, Va. – A monument honoring 14 Jewish chaplains who died in service to our nation was unveiled on Chaplains Hill in Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, Oct. 24. Five members of Connecticut’s Jewish War Veterans were among several hundred people on hand for the ceremony to dedicate the Jewish Chaplains Monument.
The new monument stands side-by-side with monuments honoring chaplains of the Catholic and Protestant faiths, which were erected in 1981 and 1989, respectively. It came to fruition after several years of persistence and perseverance on the part of a team of Jewish and secular organizations, including the Jewish Federations of North America, the JWB Jewish Chaplains Council, the American Legion, the Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance and the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A.,who worked to successfully pass the legislation for the memorial through the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.
“It is fitting and appropriate that we now have a memorial in our national cemetery to properly pay tribute to these 14 Jewish chaplains,” said Kathy Manning, chair of the Board of Trustees of The Jewish Federations of North America. “Today’s dedication ceremony is a reminder for the Jewish community to come together and reflect on all those who have bravely served in the armed forces.”
The memorial’s installation aligns with the 150th anniversary of service by rabbis in the Armed Forces. Veterans, chaplains, families of the fallen Jewish chaplains and members of the Jewish community from across the nation attended the landmark ceremony that corrected an omission on the sacred hill at Arlington.
“We have long-awaited this day where we can recognize the crucial work and bravery of Jewish chaplains who have died in service to our country,” said Jerry Silverman, President & CEO of The Jewish Federations of North America. “We have made it a mission to reunite the memory of fallen Jewish Chaplain Rabbi Alexander Goode from the sunken USAT Dorchester with his fellow fallen chaplains.”
Among those memorialized by the monument is Rabbi David M. Sobel, a West Hartford native who died while serving in the U.S. Air Force on March 7, 1974; and Rabbi Alexander Goode, who was among four chaplains – two Protestants, one Catholic and one Jewish – who were on the USAT Dorchester when it was sunk by German torpedoes off the coast of Greenland on Feb. 3, 1943. The four died together after giving their lifejackets to save others on board.
Two known survivors remain from the USAT Dorchester, including one, Ernest Heaton, who joined the dedication ceremony. The second survivor, Ben Epstein, was too ill to attend the ceremony.
“It was an especially meaningful ceremony for him, as he paid his respects to his former shipmate,” said Elliot Donn of Windsor, past department commander of Connecticut Jewish War Veterans Post #45 who was on hand for the ceremony. Donn, who also serves on the Jewish War Veterans’ National Executive Committee, said
Heaton, who is 89-years old “gave a beautiful, heart-felt talk” and was presented with an American flag commemorating the occasion.
CBS News Correspondent Dan Raviv – an active member of the Jewish community – served as the ceremony’s emcee. Speakers included top leaders from the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, Jewish organizations, as well as Members of Congress.
In addition to Rabbi Goode and Rabbi Sobel, the other 11 Jewish chaplains commemorated include:
• Rabbi Herman L. Rosen, June 18, 1943
• Rabbi Henry Goody, Oct. 19, 1943
• Rabbi Samuel D. Hurwitz, Dec. 9, 1943
• Rabbi Louis Werfel, Dec. 24, 1943
• Rabbi Irving Tepper, August 13, 1944
• Rabbi Nachman S. Arnoff, May 9, 1946
• Rabbi Frank Goldenberg, May 22, 1946
• Rabbi Solomon Rosen, Nov. 2, 1948
• Rabbi Samuel Rosen, May 13, 1955
• Rabbi Meir Engel, Dec. 16, 1964
• Rabbi Joseph I. Hoenig, Dec. 29, 1966
• Rabbi Morton H. Singer, Dec. 17, 1968