The U.S. Senate unanimously voted to authorize the construction of a memorial in Arlington National Cemetery for fallen Jewish chaplains.
The bill approved Thursday night had already been approved by the House of Representatives.
Dozens of national and locally based Jewish and veterans groups, led by the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Welfare Board Jewish Chaplains Council of the JCC Association of America, have been working for nearly three years to establish a memorial for Jewish chaplains in Arlington National Cemetery alongside those for Protestant and Catholic chaplains.
The memorial, which has been designed and will be paid for by private donations, had to receive congressional authorization before construction could begin.
Thirteen Jewish chaplains have been killed while serving in the military.
The congressional resolutions, initiated by Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) and Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) in the House, and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) in the Senate, 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.
“Congressional passage of this bill is an important step toward ensuring that we recognize the heroic sacrifices of the 13 Jewish chaplains who have died serving our country, and whose names deserve to be memorialized in our national resting place,” the Jewish federations of North America said in a statement.