On the Home Front
In and around Washington, the Jewish community supported the war in a variety of ways.
In support of the war effort, local Jews joined their fellow citizens in rationing sugar, butter, and coffee. They recycled newspapers, bobby pins, and cigarette wrappers. They housed soldiers and civilian newcomers in extra rooms.
The Jewish War Veterans’ Washington Post No. 58 and the Jewish Welfare Board sponsored High Holiday services and Passover seders for military personnel. The Jewish Community Center provided housing references to thousands of newly arrived “government girls” through a Room Registry. The JCC offered a full program of activities, including daytime jitterbug contests for nighttime shift workers. Its policy was: “Your uniform is your admission to all activities and facilities.”
…a colonel asked me if I would like to sell all of my poultry to the U.S. Army…My chicken went to our soldiers who were located all over the world…Boys from Washington, D.C., wrote me letters thanking me for the good poultry they received.
Fred Kolker Oral History, 1985
1942: Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria loaned a Torah to the Marine Corps based in Quantico, Virginia.
1943: After America entered the war, Gichner Ironworks converted to producing war materials. When the company received an award for exceptional efficiency and production, Henry Gichner said: “Let’s keep right on going until we get the V-Flag for Victory!”
JHSGW Collections. Gift of Isabelle Gichner. 1995.02
1940s: Many local organizations sponsored rallies, soldiers’ dances, and other events in support of the war. The sisterhood of Washington Hebrew worked as American Red Cross volunteers and hosted USO dances like the one shown here.
1942: Roselyn Silverman moved to Washington during the war to work for the Navy Department. She is shown here in her room at Dissin’s Guest House, a boarding house catering to young Jews at 2013 Massachusetts Avenue, NW. Severe housing shortages forced many war workers to share scarce rooms in boarding houses and private homes across the city.
Library of Congress. Photograph by Esther Bubley.
1942: Phyllis Hagedorn Cohen joined the Middle East Division of the Foreign Economic Administration. She was the only Jewish staff member at her agency.
JHSGW Collections. Gift of Phyllis Hagedorn Cohen Fineshriber. 1996.49
1940s: Fred Kolker (left) ran a poultry business at 1263 4th Street, NE. He is shown here with Cantor and shochet (ritual butcher) Moshe Yoelson.
Courtesy of Brenda and Paul Pascal.
1944: Elizabeth Hirshman received this certificate of recognition for her service as an air raid warden in Washington’s civil defense program. Air raid wardens patrolled the streets, directing people to air raid shelters and ensuring that blackouts were observed.
1940s: Victor Perlmutter published and edited The District Leader, a bi-weekly local newspaper for residents of Southeast Washington.
JHSGW Collections. Gift of Bebe Perlmutter. 1995.11