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Object of the Month: June 2013 0 Comment(s)

Object No: 2012.30.1
Donor: Froma Sandler
Description: World War II ration book for Jacob Sandler, age 35, 5221 Chevy Chase Parkway, Washington, D.C., early 1940s.

Ration stamps in Lena Chidakel’s ration book.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Edith and Charles Pascal

During World War II, Washington’s Jewish community supported American troops both at home and abroad. Wartime food shortages required Washingtonians to save and reuse everything. To limit consumption of products like butter, coffee, liquor, and sugar, the U.S. Office of Price Administration distributed ration books to individuals and families. Households exchanged specific ration stamps for limited amounts of a given food item at grocery stores. Rationing at home enabled more food to be diverted to the war effort. Hardships at home were a low price to pay if they led to victory in Europe and the well-being of American soldiers.

As American factories shifted their attention to manufacturing goods to support the war effort, production of liquor, like other luxuries, slowed. "There were always shortages," recalled Washington liquorman Milton Kronheim in an oral history, "[It] became difficult to get the popular brands we were selling."

Fred Kolker (center) ran a poultry business at 1263 4th Street, NE. Shown here with cantor and shochet (ritual butcher) Moshe Yoelson.

Courtesy of Brenda and Paul Pascal.

Local businesses also supported troops overseas with food from home. Fred Kolker's wholesale poultry business at Union Terminal Market sold to the U.S. Army during the war. In his oral history, Kolker remembered fondly, “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.”

Washington's Jewish community also welcomed soldiers and war workers who flocked to the city to work in the war effort. When severe housing shortages forced workers to share scarce rooms in boarding houses and private homes, the Jewish Community Center provided housing references to thousands of newly arrived "government girls" through a Room Registry. Roselyn Dresbold Silverman came to Washington in 1941 to work for the Navy Department. She lived at Dissin's Guest House, a boarding house in Dupont Circle that catered to young Jewish women. Each month, Roselyn paid $35 for her room, two kosher-style meals a day, and maid service.

Ninth Annual Passover Seder by the Army and Navy Committee of the Jewish Welfare Board and the Jewish War Veterans of the United States. Willard Hotel, April 19, 1943. 

JHSGW Collections.

The Jewish War Veterans' Washington Post No. 58 and the Jewish Welfare Board sponsored High Holiday services and Passover seders for military personnel stationed far from their families. The Jewish Community Center at 16th & Q Streets, NW 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."

Washington's Jewish community was very much a part of the war effort. As Henry Gichner said when he accepted an award for exceptional efficiency and production on behalf of Gichner Iron Works, "Let's keep right on going until we get the V-Flag for Victory."

Celebrating Israel@65 0 Comment(s)

Making birthday cards for Israel

On Sunday, June 9th, we participated in The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington's Israel@65 Festival at Union Market. More than 10,000 people, young and old, celebrated Israel's 65th

At our booth:

  • Children created Israel birthday cards.
  • An exhibition, Ties That Bind, told the story of Washington's role in the establishing the Jewish State.
  • We handed out 600 fans as well as posters about Washington's celebration of Israel's independence.

View our photo album of the event!

Longtime JHSGW member Paul Pascal led a tour of the history of Union Terminal Market and former sites of Jewish merchants. Check out the pictures! We plan to offer this tour again soon, so keep an eye out.

If you attended the tour, please comment here or email to tell what you thought! If a friend was on the tour, please share this request.

Another Successful Jewish American Heritage Month 0 Comment(s)

We've wrapped up another successful Jewish American Heritage Month, again showing our role as the source for community history!

You may have seen Arthur Welsh, the first American Jewish aviator, featured in the "Flashbacks" comic in the Sunday Washington Post. Our efforts led to this feature and the Society was mentioned in the final strip! You can now view the entire six-part series.

Executive Director Laura Apelbaum and board member Diane Wattenberg were featured in The Federation's Jewish Food Experience blog -- read the post about the winning National Spelling Bee word: knaidel.

We partnered again this year with the National Archives on a very special program featuring Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissman Klein.

We were also featured in Moment Magazine (download article) and we were out in the community a great deal:

  • Exhibition, Jewish Life in Mr. Lincoln's City, was on display at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library
  • Led 8 walking tours:
    • Washington Hebrew Congregation’s 6th grade, EntryPointDC’s young professionals group, and a public tour of Downtown DC
    • Arlington National Cemetery for the public, Women of Temple Rodef Shalom, and a Jewish school from North Carolina
    • Old Town Alexandria for the Adas Israel Congregation Sisterhood and Jewish Federations of North America staff
  •  Presented 5 talks on topics about local Jewish heritage for:
    • OASIS at Montgomery Mall
    • U.S. Customs and Border Protection
    • EntryPointDC’s Shavuot Study Night
    • Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library
    • Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington's annual meeting (related blog post)