When Frances Browner, then 21, announced she was joining the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) during World War II, her mother and most of the rest of her family were appalled. They thought that this wasn’t something a Jewish girl should do.
The publication of a 2010 photograph showing U.S. soldiers with a logo resembling a Nazi symbol was greeted with condemnations by Jewish groups.
Mila Kunis became the latest celebrity to make it to the 236th annual Marine Corps Ball this week. Fresh off being named GQ’s Man of the Year, Kunis was the distinguished date of Sgt. Scott Moore at the Greenville, N.C., soiree.
They fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. They served in the United States Army, Navy and the Army Air Corps — the precursor to the Air Force. A few flew through anti-aircraft fire over Nazi Germany, another marched over mountains during the coldest winter of the Korean War. One even watched the Bay of Pigs Invasion from the deck of a disguised aircraft carrier floating “spitting distance” from the shores of Cuba.
There are a few Jewish themes to the stories that the Jewish War Veterans of Post 603 tell. They tell of feeling ignored by a society that still thinks Jews don’t serve. Stories about anti-Semitism in the military ranks many decades ago are also common -- and always seem to involve a superior officer from Georgia.
A short distance from the area where many historians believe the Talmud was written, Rabbi Jon Cutler leads one of the only functioning synagogues left in Iraq.
Stella Goren is only about 4-foot-10, but she packs a strong punch.
It all started when she was turning 79, and her husband asked what she wanted for her birthday.
"I'd like to work out at a gym with a personal trainer," Goren told him.
In spite of thinking she was meshugge and assuming this wouldn't last, her husband gave his wife of 45 years what she wanted.
"I was very happy," Sam Goren recalled. "I didn't have to go out and buy her a present."
It turned out to be the perfect gift. Goren has been working out at the In Training Fitness Center in Hollywood, and loving it, for the past five years.
Drew Ullman, age 20, after two years at college in Santa Barbara, had announced that was putting college life on hold and would join the Marines. He heads to boot camp in January, and said he wishes he could go sooner. His father, a former anti-war activist and full-fledged liberal, said at one time he would have talked his son out of it. Now he realizes he couldn't be prouder.
"My father and I have similar thinking," said Drew, who grew up in Beverly Hills and the West Valley, "what we call our 9-10 and our 9-12 thinking. I feel like I owe a lot to this country, more so than someone who needs to go into the military as a way out. I grew up with money, with a great education, had a lot of advantages that other kids don't have, so I really owe a lot to this country."
In the entire U.S. military there are about 50 Orthodox Jews -- and I am one of them. Why am I telling you this?
One of the most significant elements in Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech of Nov. 19 was the appointment of Anthony Zinni, the much-decorated and admired retired Marine Corps four-star general, as his Mideast envoy.