Witness Testimony of Hon. Anthony Weiner, U.S. House of Representatives, New York
Chairman Runyan, Ranking Member McNerney, thank you for allowing me to testify today on House Concurrent Resolution 12, which would designate a plot of land Arlington cemetery to be used for a memorial honoring the Jewish Chaplains of our armed services.
Unlike many things in Congress, this bill is simple and straightforward.
Jewish chaplains have served our country for 149 years, yet they still do not have a place next to their Protestant and Catholic counterparts on Chaplains’ Hill in Arlington Cemetery.
Today, all that is standing between Arlington Cemetery and a memorial for Jewish Chaplains is the passage of H Con Res 12.
That is all there is to this resolution.
I am not the one who thought of creating a memorial for Jewish veterans.
In fact, like many Jewish-Americans and veterans nation-wide, I was surprised to learn that no such memorial existed in Arlington Cemetery at all.
Ken Kraetzner, son of a World War II Army officer, noticed the lack of a monument for Jewish chaplains while researching the stories of the four immortal chaplains, who died while giving final rites on board the USS Dorchester in 1943.
Ken located the four men on Chaplains’ Hill, he noticed that Rabbi Alexander Goode, was the only one of the four chaplains not distinguished by a memorial.
Ken partnered with two other veterans, Rabbi Harold Robinson and Sol Moglen, to help lead fundraising efforts. In just a few months, they raised over $50,000.
They used the three other memorials as a model for the new monument they envisioned for the 13 Jewish Chaplains that lost their lives from 1943 to 1974.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, the number thirteen is significant in Judaism. We have the 13 attributes of divine mercy on Yom Kippur, the 13 Maimonedian principles of the Jewish faith and of course, the 13 tribes of Israel.
The monument, as designed, will stand about 7 feet tall, with a bronze plaque mounted on a granite slab listing the 13 names as well as a Jewish proverb - "I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders" - and an inscription with the Star of David. There will also be space at the bottom for future chaplains if needed.
While planning this project, Ken Kraetzer, Rabbi Harold Robinson and Sol Moglen were in touch with Arlington Cemetery; however they were only notified of a new 2001 law that requires congressional approval for memorials in Arlington Cemetery.
The group quickly alerted the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America, the Jewish Welfare Board Jewish Chaplains Council, and they finally reached out to me.
I was touched by the work of these great men and quickly introduced this resolution. Senator Schumer has also introduced the Senate version of this bill.
In less than four months, the resolution collected 72 bi-partisan co-sponsors (including Chairman Runyan and full committee Chairman Jeff Miller), and has been endorsed by 35 national Jewish organizations and 47 local Jewish War Veterans chapters.
The Jewish Federations of North America and Shelly Rood have been working to help pass this bill to recognize the achievements of the 13 Jewish chaplains. Surviving family members of the chaplains have also been involved in the process, including David Engle, son of Rabbi Meir Engle and Vera Silberberg, daughter of Morton Singer.
If I may, Mr. Chairman, I would like to submit the letter of support from all these groups into the record.
I am very grateful that we are one step closer to erecting this monument and properly honoring the brave Jewish chaplains that served our country.
What better way to celebrate Jewish Heritage month.
I look forward to the passage of this resolution on the House floor.
Now, Mr. Chairman, please let me take a moment to repeat the names of the thirteen chaplains honored through this resolution.
- Nachman S. Arnoff, Army
- Meir Engel, Army
- Frank Goldenberg, Army
- Alexander D. Goode, Army
- Henry Goody, Army
- Samuel D. Hurwitz, Army
- Herman L. Rosen, Air Force
- Samuel Rosen, Air Force
- Solomon Rosen, Army
- Morton H. Singer, Army
- David Sobel, Air Force
- Irving Tepper, Army
- Louis Werfel, Army
March 22, 2011
Support Jewish Military Chaplains at Chaplains Hill in Arlington National Cemetery
Dear Members of Congress:
As you may know, the men and women serving in America’s armed forces are supported by brave military chaplains of many faiths, who—at great personal risk and peril—provide spiritual and emotional support to soldiers defending our freedom. These heroes who are sometimes killed or injured in the line of duty deserve our nation’s utmost respect. Chaplains Hill in Arlington National Cemetery appropriately memorializes the names of 242 chaplains who perished while on active duty, but astonishingly, none of the 13 Jewish chaplains who have died while serving are honored on Chaplains Hill.
As organizations representing Jewish communities across the country, we urge you to support H. Con. Res. 12 and S. Con. Res. 4, which call for a memorial honoring the Jewish chaplains who perished while serving on active duty. Private funds for this memorial have already been raised, but Congress must act to designate the space.
One of the transformational moments in American life was the heroic sacrifice of the four chaplains of the USS Dorchester, which was transporting 900 soldiers and civilian workers to the European front when it was sunk by German torpedoes off the coast of Greenland on February 3, 1943. Each of the four chaplains on board spontaneously gave his lifejacket to another soldier, and the chaplains perished together as they prayed and sang hymns to men in lifeboats and in the icy water. The chaplains represented three faith traditions—two Protestants, a Catholic, and a Jew—and their death marked the first time the term “Protestant, Catholic and Jew” was used to describe America. Three of the four are memorialized on Chaplain’s Hill, but neither Rabbi Alexander Goode nor any of the other rabbis who died in other active service situations are so remembered.
Members of the Jewish faith have served our country since the days of the American Revolution, and Jewish chaplains have bravely served alongside. In total 13 Jewish chaplains have perished while on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States. Working with the American Legion and the Jewish War Veterans, the Jewish Welfare Board Jewish Chaplains Council has raised the funds to establish this memorial. We urge you to act swiftly to pass this legislation in the House and in the Senate.
To cosponsor this legislation, please contact Naz Durakoglu in Rep. Weiner’s office at x5-6616 or Naz.Durakoglu@mail.house.gov, Jessica Moore in Rep. Rooney’s office at x5-5792 or Jessica.Moore@mail.house.gov, or Rachel Yemini in Sen. Schumer’s office at x4-6542 or Rachel_Yemini@judiciary-dem.senate.gov.
For additional information, please contact Shelley Rood at the Jewish Federations of North America at (202) 736-5880 or Shelley.Rood@JewishFederations.org.
Thank you for your consideration.
American Jewish Committee
Association of Jewish Aging Services
Association of Jewish Chaplains of the Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs
Association of Jewish Children & Family Agencies
B’nai B’rith International
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Foundation for Jewish Culture
International Association of Jewish Vocational Services
Jewish American Heritage Month
Jewish Communal Service Association of North America
Jewish Community Centers Association
Jewish Community Relations Council of New York
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Jewish Education Service of North America
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago
The Jewish Federations of North America
Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs
Jewish War Veterans
Jewish Women International
JWB-Jewish Chaplains Council
National Association of Jewish Chaplains
National Council of Jewish Women
National Council of Young Israel
National Jewish Democratic Council
Rabbinical Council of America
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Republican Jewish Coalition
The Rabbinical Assembly
UJA-Federation New York
Union for Reform Judaism
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Local Veterans Organizations
Jewish War Veterans of Nevada, Post 21
Jewish War Veterans of Nevada, Post 64
Jewish War Veterans of Nevada, Post 65
Jewish War Veterans of Nevada, Post 711
The Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. Sgt. Manny Peven Post 65
Local Jewish Organizations
American Jewish Committee New York Regional Office
Brownstein Jewish Family Service
Bureau of Jewish Education of Buffalo
Community Relations Committee of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest
Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of San Antonio
Congregation Beth Shalom, Wilmington, Delaware
Council of Jewish Organizations of Las Vegas
FEGS Health and Human Services System
Jewish Community Center of Staten Island
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County
Jewish Community Relations Council of Long Island
Jewish Community Relations Council of United Jewish Council of Greater Toledo
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation
Jewish Family & Child Service of Portland
Jewish Family Service of Bergen and North Hudson
Jewish Family Service of Buffalo & Erie County, NY
Jewish Family Service of the Cincinnati Area
Jewish Family Service of Greater Danbury, CT & Putnam County, NY
Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans
Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles
Jewish Family Services of Northeastern New York
Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass
Jewish Federation of Las Vegas
Jewish Federation of Nashville Community Relations Committee
Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York
Jewish Social Service Agency
Joint Chaplaincy Committee of MetroWest
Knoxville Jewish Alliance
Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty
New Jersey State Association of Jewish Federations
New York Board of Rabbis
North Louisiana Jewish Federation
Ohio Jewish Communities
Palm Beach County Board Of Rabbis
Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care & Rehabilitation
Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition
Samuel Field YM-YWHA
Selfhelp Community Services, Inc.
Westchester Jewish Council