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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)

Shabbat Service Honors Chaplain Alexander Goode 0 Comment(s)

This past Friday, February 3, 2012, when the congregation gathered to welcome Shabbat at Washington Hebrew Congregation, the service marked the anniversary of the sinking of the WWII transport boat the Dorchester and the remarkable bravery of the Four Chaplains-- all of whom gave their lives that frigid night in the waters off Greenland so others could live.

Among the four chaplains was Rabbi Alexander Goode (pictured here), who grew up in Washington and who was a member of Washington Hebrew. His name was among those on the yartzeit (memorial) list read aloud during the service. Rabbi Goode's name is the first listed on the new Jewish chaplains memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.

The story has been memorialized in many ways and guest speaker, Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff, himself a former Navy chaplain, recounted it adding details from his service in Vietnam, the Far East, and Middle East.

As the service concluded, Rabbi Bruce Lustig reminded us that the Dorchester sunk in just 27 minutes -- a startling reminder of the fragility of life and the sacrifice of the Four Chaplains that cold night 69 years ago.

In the news: Jewish Chaplains Memorial 0 Comment(s)

Last week I had the honor of going out to Arlington National Cemetery to show Congressman Bob Turner, members of his staff, and a Voice of America crew the new Jewish Chaplains Memorial.

Congressman Turner -- recently elected from a New York district that is one-third Jewish -- had contacted our friends at the Jewish Federations of North America about showing him the monument. When the staff members at JFNA had scheduling conflicts, they called on us.

It was touching to explain the story of the effort to create the monument, both to the Congressman and the VOA crew. The picture here shows Milo, the VOA cameraman, and Congressman Turner in front of the memorial. Thanks to JFNA for letting me be a part of this visit.

Check out the VOA story, including a quote from me, here.

Honoring Jewish Chaplains 0 Comment(s)

For years Chaplains Hill at Arlington National Cemetery has held monuments to Protestant and Catholic military chaplains killed in the line of duty--but none for their Jewish counterparts. Last week, we were honored to be a part of rectifying that.

On Thursday, Ken Kraetzer (left), Admiral Harold Robinson (center), and Shelley Rood of the Jewish Federations of North America (right)--who have been spearheading the effort -- stopped by our office on their way to a meeting with the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, which approves all monuments in the nation's capital and Arlington National Cemetery. They impressed us with their practice presentation, and apparently impressed the CFA with the real thing, as well--the design for the monument was approved, with only minor tweaks!

All of the funds needed for the creation of the Jewish Chaplains Monument at Arlington have been raised. Since last fall, we've been creating an accompanying booklet about Jews buried at Arlington (in cooperation with the Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington). We've raised $2,000 of the $10,000 needed for that project; click here to donate (indicate that your donation is for Arlington Cemetery).

We'll look forward to the monument's dedication -- now a step closer to happening.

A Successful Jewish American Heritage Month! 0 Comment(s)

Our Jewish American Heritage Month programs culminated at City Hall last month, where we celebrated with D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown, the D.C. Council, and even the mayor.  This special event, co-organized with the Jewish Community Relations Council, included a kosher deli lunch and our exhibition, Jewish Life in Mr. Lincoln’s City, which was on view in the Wilson Building atrium.

Debbie Linick of JCRC, D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan,
JHSGW Executive Director Laura Apelbaum, and D.C. Mayor Vincent Grey
Photograph by Betty Adler
Chairman Brown addresses the crowd
Photograph by Betty Adler


During May, our programs served 625 people.  Countless others viewed our exhibitions.

Joan Nathan and Spike Mendelsohn
speaking at the National Archives
Photograph by Pat Fisher