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Jewish, veterans’ groups urge memorial to chaplains

JTA

February 10, 2011 | 10:10 am

Jewish and veterans’ groups urged the U.S. Congress to pass a resolution that would add the names of Jewish chaplains to an Arlington Cemetery memorial.

Groups including the Jewish Federations of North America, the Jewish Welfare Board, the Jewish War Veterans and the American Legion wrote Congress members Feb. 9 asking them to back a congressional resolution now circulating in both houses.

“Chaplains Hill in Arlington National Cemetery appropriately memorializes the names of 242 chaplains who perished while on active duty,” said Cheryl Fishbein, the chairwoman of the JFNA North America Domestic Affairs Cabinet. “But astonishingly, none of the 13 Jewish chaplains who have died while serving are honored on Chaplains Hill. All chaplains who have served our country should be honored.”

The monument has three plaques: One honoring Roman Catholic chaplains who died in World War II, Korea and Vietnam; one simply honoring “chaplains” who died in World War I; and one honoring Protestant chaplains who died in the two world wars.

The congressional resolutions, initiated by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) in the Senate and Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) and Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) in the House of Representatives, urge the provision of space “for a memorial marker, to be paid for with private funds, to honor the memory of the Jewish chaplains who died while on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States.”

The design would be subject to the approval of the secretary of the Army.

The resolution notes the absence from the memorial of, among others, Rabbi Alexander Goode, one of four chaplains who relinquished their life jackets to soldiers when the USS Dorchester was sunk by German torpedoes in 1943 and went down together in prayer.

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