Jewish Men and Women in Uniform

Washington Jews—men and women—served valiantly on all fronts of World War II.

Within a week after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the U.S. was at war with Japan, Germany, and Italy. Members of Washington’s Jewish community joined every branch of the military.

With the country engaged in both Atlantic and Pacific theaters of combat, Washington became arguably the most important city in the world. Temporary buildings rose overnight to house new war agencies. Thousands of educated Jewish men and women, many the first in their families to graduate from college, flocked to Washington to work in new wartime agencies.

Photo of Jewish War Veterans draft pick

1941: Ben Aaronson of the Jewish War Veterans pulls a lottery number during an early draft pick at the American Legion Building in Washington.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Dorothy Cooper Kornhauser. 2003.11

Photo of Sidney Hais

1942: At home on leave, Corporal Sidney Hais posed with his mother Ida Flax Hais in front of the family grocery store at 7th and C Street, NE.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Sidney Hais and Steve Blacher. 2002.1

Photo of Sgt. Brody

1945: Staff Sergeant Morton Brodofsky (Brody) of the 1st Armored Division was awarded a Silver Star for actions in Artena, Italy. The citation states: “…completely disregarding his own personal safety, Sgt. Brodofsky voluntarily took up a new position…Seeing Brodofsky’s action, most of the men returned to their positions and inflicted a major defeat on the enemy.”

Courtesy of the Morton Brody family.

M. Brody telegram

1944: Telegram notifying Beatrice Brodosfky that her son has been wounded in Italy.

Courtesy of the Morton Brody family.

Shulman photo

1945: Fay Shulman enlisted as a WAVE (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service). “I would come home every night…and see in the newspaper a name that either I knew or went to school with,” she remembers. “It began to hit home.” After hospital training, she was assigned to Bremerton Naval Hospital in Washington state.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Fay Shulman. 2005.6

Frank Rich

1944: Major Frank Rich served 26 months in the Far East in the Army Air Forces as Deputy Chief of Staff of the Statistical Control Office. “Conditions were very primitive—no air-conditioning, a crate for a desk,” he remembers. “Dangerous air missions flew without radar. I made sure they did not run out of fuel.”

Courtesy of Frank Rich.

Photo of Billy Mann

1944: Private William Mann was captured by the German Army during the Battle of the Bulge. “I had no idea what was in store for American Jewish prisoners . . . I punched my fist down into a snowbank and took my dog tags off and dropped them in there . . . and from that time on I was a ‘Catholic.’” Mann survived 106 days in a prisoner of war camp near Frankfurt, Germany.

Courtesy of William Mann.

Seder at Willard

1942: A Passover seder held at the Willard Hotel drew over 1,000 soldiers, friends, and family.

JHSGW Collections.

Photo of Jewish War Veterans draft pick
Photo of Sidney Hais
Photo of Sgt. Brody
M. Brody telegram
Shulman photo
Frank Rich
Photo of Billy Mann
Seder at Willard