Four Immortal Chaplains
By Jerry Klinger
Freedom is a work in progress – William
few Christians and Jews know the story today. Perhaps even fewer
would know the story of Jewish Chaplain Alexander Goode who died that
night, if it would not be for a single man, a Catholic.
“It was the
evening of Feb. 2, 1943, and the U.S.A.T. Dorchester was crowded to
capacity, carrying 902 service men, merchant seamen and civilian
Once a luxury coastal liner, the 5,649-ton vessel
had been converted into an Army transport ship. The Dorchester, one
of three ships in the SG-19 convoy, was moving steadily across the
icy waters from Newfoundland toward an American base in Greenland.
SG-19 was escorted by Coast Guard Cutters Tampa, Escanaba and
Hans J. Danielsen,
the ship's captain, was concerned and cautious. Earlier the Tampa had
detected a submarine with its sonar. Danielsen knew he was in
dangerous waters even before he got the alarming information. German
U-boats were constantly prowling these vital sea lanes, and several
ships had already been blasted and sunk.
The Dorchester was
now only 150 miles from its destination, but the captain ordered the
men to sleep in their clothing and keep life jackets on. Many
soldiers sleeping deep in the ship's hold disregarded the order
because of the engine's heat. Others ignored it because the life
jackets were uncomfortable.
On Feb. 3, at 12:55 a.m., a
periscope broke the chilly Atlantic waters. Through the cross hairs,
an officer aboard the German submarine U-223 spotted the
The U-223 approached the convoy on the surface, and
after identifying and targeting the ship, he gave orders to fire the
torpedoes, a fan of three were fired. The one that hit was
decisive--and deadly--striking the starboard side, amid ship, far
below the water line.
Danielsen, alerted that the Dorchester
was taking water rapidly and sinking, gave the order to abandon ship.
In less than 20 minutes, the Dorchester would slip beneath the
Atlantic's icy waters.
Tragically, the hit
had knocked out power and radio contact with the three escort ships.
The CGC Comanche, however, saw the flash of the explosion. It
responded and then rescued 97 survivors. The CGC Escanaba circled the
Dorchester, rescuing an additional 132 survivors. The third cutter,
CGC Tampa, continued on, escorting the remaining two ships
Aboard the Dorchester, panic and chaos had set in. The blast had
killed scores of men, and many more were seriously wounded. Others,
stunned by the explosion were groping in the darkness. Those sleeping
without clothing rushed topside where they were confronted first by a
blast of icy Arctic air and then by the knowledge that death awaited.
Men jumped from the ship into lifeboats, over-crowding them
to the point of capsizing, according to eyewitnesses. Other rafts,
tossed into the Atlantic, drifted away before soldiers could get in
Through the pandemonium, according to those present,
four Army chaplains brought hope in despair and light in darkness.
Those chaplains were Lt. George L. Fox, Methodist; Lt. Alexander D.
Goode, Jewish; Lt. John P. Washington, Roman Catholic; and Lt. Clark
V. Poling, Dutch Reformed.
Quickly and quietly, the four
chaplains spread out among the soldiers. There they tried to calm the
frightened, tend the wounded and guide the disoriented toward safety.
"Witnesses of that terrible night remember hearing the
four men offer prayers for the dying and encouragement for those who
would live," says Wyatt R. Fox, son of Reverend Fox.
witness, Private William B. Bednar, found himself floating in
oil-smeared water surrounded by dead bodies and debris. "I could
hear men crying, pleading, praying," Bednar recalls. "I
could also hear the chaplains preaching courage. Their voices were
the only thing that kept me going."
Petty Officer John J. Mahoney, tried to reenter his cabin but Rabbi
Goode stopped him. Mahoney, concerned about the cold Arctic air,
explained he had forgotten his gloves.
Goode responded. "I have two pairs." The rabbi then gave
the petty officer his own gloves. In retrospect, Mahoney realized
that Rabbi Goode was not conveniently carrying two pairs of gloves,
and that the rabbi had decided not to leave the Dorchester.
By this time, most
of the men were topside, and the chaplains opened a storage locker
and began distributing life jackets. It was then that Engineer Grady
Clark witnessed an astonishing sight.
When there were no more
lifejackets in the storage room, the chaplains removed theirs and
gave them to four frightened young men.
"It was the
finest thing I have seen or hope to see this side of heaven,"
said John Ladd, another survivor who saw the chaplains' selfless act.
Ladd's response is
understandable. The altruistic action of the four chaplains
constitutes one of the purest spiritual and ethical acts a person can
make. When giving their life jackets, Rabbi Goode did not call out
for a Jew; Father Washington did not call out for a Catholic; nor did
the Reverends Fox and Poling call out for a Protestant. They simply
gave their life jackets to the next man in line.
As the ship
went down, survivors in nearby rafts could see the four
chaplains--arms linked and braced against the slanting deck. Their
voices could also be heard offering prayers.
Of the 902 men
aboard the U.S.A.T. Dorchester, 672 died, leaving 230 survivors. When
the news reached American shores, the nation was stunned by the
magnitude of the tragedy and heroic conduct of the four chaplains.
"Valor is a
gift," Carl Sandburg once said. "Those having it never know
for sure whether they have it until the test comes."
night Reverend Fox, Rabbi Goode, Reverend Poling and Father
Washington passed life's ultimate test. In doing so, they became an
enduring example of extraordinary faith, courage and selflessness.
The Distinguished Service Cross and Purple Heart were awarded
posthumously December 19, 1944, to the next of kin by Lt. Gen. Brehon
B. Somervell, Commanding General of the Army Service Forces, in a
ceremony at the post chapel at Fort Myer, VA.
A one-time only
posthumous Special Medal for Heroism was authorized by Congress and
awarded by the President Eisenhower on January 18, 1961. Congress
attempted to confer the Medal of Honor but was blocked by the
stringent requirements that required heroism performed under fire.
The special medal was intended to have the same weight and importance
as the Medal of Honor.”
The heroism of the
Four Immortal Chaplains came to symbolize the meaning of America.
Their sacrifice exemplified the finest ideals of American freedom of
religion, toleration and commonality as Americans of all colors,
religions, and backgrounds fought to destroy the evils of fascism,
totalitarianism and Nazism.
In 1947, New York
Postmaster Albert Goldman approached his chief artistic designer, an
orthodox Jew, Louis Schwimmer, to create a stamp honoring the Four
Schwimmer thought the idea for the stamp originated with the
National Conference of Christians and Jews. It did not. The stamp
was the idea of a Jewish woman waiting in an anteroom to see
Postmaster Goldman, Claire A. Wolfe. Sol Glass, himself a Bureau
Specialist, quoted her story in his Postal Service history article,
Four Chaplains Commemorative Stamp, September 1948, Volume XIX,
Wednesday, November 27, 1947, and I was sitting in the anteroom
outside the offices of Postmaster Goldman in New York. As Public
Relations Counsel for the "Interfaith in Action Committee"
I had come to the Postmaster for some personal information in
connection with a testimonial dinner held in his honor.
"So I sat there
in the waiting-room reviewing in my mind the plans for the dinner and
striving for some new creative idea or symbol that would express the
work of my interfaith friends in terms the public would understand.
"I'm glad that
Postmaster Goldman was very busy that morning and therefore kept me
waiting a long time. What specific picture or slogan, I wondered will
tell in an instant the story of "Interfaith in Action?"
I remembered my friend, Irving Geist, the philanthropist, and the
invaluable contributions he had made in the Four Chaplains
organization to help paraplegics.
CHAPLAINS. That was it. What better symbol of Interfaith in Action?
men - Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish - who gave their life jackets
to soldiers aboard the sinking transport U.S.S. Dorchester, in
February 1943. Four men of different faiths who locked their arm
together on the slanting, slippery deck until the waters closed over
them and made them immortal.
Goldman was looking down at me and smiling. "I've got it."
I said excitedly, "A idea for a new postage stamp. A real symbol
of Interfaith in Action that people will understand."
indeed", said Postmaster Goldman when he had heard the idea.
"Putting the Four Martyred Chaplains on a postage stamp should
serve to inspire every man, woman, and child to practice
inter-religious and inter-racial cooperation. The rest was efficient
Post Office routine. Postmaster Goldman started the machinery working
and the Four Chaplains stamp was issued on May 28th, 1948"
The stamp was most
likely the first time in American postal history that a stamp was
conceived, designed and advanced to issue by Jews.
made for T.V. movie was produced in 2004, The
Four Chaplains, Sacrifice at Sea.
Thousands of articles have been
written about the Four Chaplains. Memorial markers and stained glass
windows adorning chapels, including the American Military Academy of
West Point, exist across the country. Governors of American States
issue annual proclamations in honor of the Four Chaplains.
The Episcopal Church has added a special memorial day of prayer and
remembrance to the Four Chaplains in their annual observances. A
historical memorial sits opposite the infamous Watergate Complex on
the Potomac River in Washington, D.C.
years ago, Ken Kraetzer, the son of a World War II veteran and the
host of a weekly military focused radio show at Station WVOX in New
Rochelle, New York, went to do research on the Four Chaplains at
Arlington, National Cemetery.
Mansion Arlington, National Cemetery
Cemetery was created during the American Civil War to spite the famed
Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Lee’s home and farm were
located directly across the river from Washington in Arlington,
Virginia. “The property was confiscated by the federal
government when property taxes levied against Arlington estate were
not paid in person by Mrs. Lee. The property was offered for public
sale Jan. 11, 1864, and was purchased by a tax commissioner for
‘government use, for war, military, charitable and educational
Cemetery was established by Brig. Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs, who
commanded the garrison at Arlington House, appropriated the grounds
June 15, 1864, for use as a military cemetery. His intention was to
render the house uninhabitable should the Lee family ever attempt to
return. A stone and masonry burial vault in the rose garden, 20 feet
wide and 10 feet deep, and containing the remains of 1,800 Bull Run
casualties, was among the first monuments to Union dead erected under
Meigs' orders. Meigs himself was later buried within 100 yards of
Arlington House with his wife, father and son; the final statement to
his original order.
government dedicated a model community for freed slaves, Freedman's
Village, near the current Memorial Amphitheater, on Dec. 4, 1863.
More than 1,100 freed slaves were given land by the government, where
they farmed and lived during and after the Civil War.
Neither Robert E.
Lee, nor his wife, as title holder, ever attempted to publicly
recover control of Arlington House. They were buried at Washington
University (later renamed Washington and Lee University) where Lee
had served as president. The couple never returned to the home George
Washington Parke Custis had built and treasured. After Gen. Lee's
death in 1870, George Washington Custis Lee brought an action for
ejectment in the Circuit Court of Alexandria (today Arlington)
County, Va. Custis Lee, as eldest son of Gen. and Mrs. Lee, claimed
that the land had been illegally confiscated and that, according to
his grandfather's will, he was the legal owner. In December 1882, the
U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, returned the property to
Custis Lee, stating that it had been confiscated without due process
On March 3, 1883,
the Congress purchased the property from Lee for $150,000. It became
a military reservation and Freedman's Village ceased to exist;
however, the gravesites that were once part of the village remained
on the grounds of the reservation.”
From the Custis-Lee
Mansion there is a clear view of the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington
Memorial and the United States Capital Building. Arlington Cemetery
is the resting place of the Tombs of the Unknown Soldiers. It is a
deeply emotional place, a very humbling place to stand amongst the
over 250,000 Americans, and a few non-Americans, who have given so
much for America and freedom. In a sense it is a place of the living
history of the United States. Men and women from America’s
struggles, ranging from the Civil War to the contemporary fight
against modern religious fascists in Iraq and Afghanistan, are buried
there. Memorials tell the story of America, from the simple
soldier’s headstone to the Mast from the sunken American war
ship the Maine. The Maine mysteriously blew up in
Havana, Cuba’s harbor igniting the Spanish American War. 212
men died on the Maine, fifteen were Jews. A large monument to
Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders stands quietly by the
side of a cemetery section. The first casualty of the famous Rough
Riders was a 16 year old Jewish volunteer, Jacob Wilbursky.
is a place of quiet rest and living history testifying to the meaning
There is a prominent
knoll above the intersection of McClellan and Grant Avenues in
Arlington. The knoll is named Chaplain’s Hill. On the knoll
are buried Chaplains from the U.S. Armed Services. Three large
memorial stone markers, seven feet high, with brass plates recognizes
the names of American Chaplains who died in America’s service.
The first marker was created in 1926 honoring the memory of World
War I Protestant Chaplains. A second marker for Protestant Chaplains
and finally a memorial marker for Catholic Chaplains were added.
Kreitzer went to
Chaplain’s Hill and quickly located the names of Chaplains Fox,
Washington and Poling. Any mention of or memorial for Rabbi
Alexander Goode was not to be found on Chaplain’s Hill. There
was no memorial stone remembering or respecting, the sacrifice of
Jewish American Chaplains on Chaplain’s Hill. Thirteen
American Jewish Chaplains had given their lives in service to
Kreitzer stood there
looking at the memorials and thought “this is wrong.”
He resolved to correct what should have been done a long time ago.
Kreitzer is not Jewish. He is Catholic.
Freedom was not always as free as it is today. Freedom was and is a
developing process. For Jews, frequently, it was and sometimes still
is necessary to enlist the aid of non-Jews to protest infringements
upon American Jewish freedoms.
the early years of the American Republic it was non-Jews who
independently took up the struggle for Jewish rights. They did what
they did not just because it was the right thing to do but because it
was also in the idealistic interest of the unique new experiment
being born, the United States of America.
of the most distasteful vestiges of British Colonial rule were Test
Oaths. To vote and hold elected office, a Colonial citizen had to
swear upon their faith as a Christian, that they would uphold the
laws of their Colony. Jews, Quakers, atheists and other non-believing
individuals would be automatically and deliberately excluded from
equal rights. They could not take an oath that would perjure
became the first State to grant religious and political freedom to
all. Jefferson frequently quoted John Locke's argument that "neither
Pagan nor Mohammedan nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil
rights of the Commonwealth because of his religion."
wasn't that Jefferson favored Judaism but rather he believed that the
free flow of ideas would in time lead to the triumph of Christianity
over Judaism. The Constitution of the United States was ratified in
1787 and the Bill of Rights was amended to it in 1791. The issue of
religious discrimination for Christians would become moot. Within a
few years, one by one the States changed their constitutions.
Western frontier state of Tennessee's compromise, an affirmation of
faith, typified the new, more tolerant standard, "no person who
denies the being of God, of future state of rewards and punishments,
shall hold any office in the civil department of State." The
very concept of religious test oaths, as the frontier pushed west,
became increasingly foreign. They were not incorporated into state
constitutions. The flow of new ideas of freedom tended to flow from
west to east. One state among the original 13 clung to its old
religious test ideals and fought bitterly to keep Jews in particular
from elected or State appointed offices – Maryland. The
struggle for freedom in Maryland was to be known as the JEW BILL.
first know Jew came to Maryland in the 1640's, Jacob Lumbrozo. It was
not until the middle of the 18th
century that Jews began to establish themselves as family units
settling primarily in the mercantile community of Baltimore. By the
time of the revolution they were integral members of the business
community. Baltimore over the next century was to become a major
center of Jewish life in America. Reuben Etting, a major supporter of
President Thomas Jefferson, was appointed by Jefferson as the U.S.
Marshall for Maryland in 1801. Etting was the first Jew to be
appointed to a major U.S. governmental position. Yet Etting could not
even be elected dog catcher in his own State of Maryland because of
the test oath requirements.
Maryland elected official had to swear upon his faith as a Christian
that he would uphold the laws of the State of Maryland. A Jew making
that declaration was lying and was automatically excluded from
holding office. For a Jew to hold elected office in Maryland the
Constitution of the State had to be changed.
the bombs burst throughout the night in the attack on Fort McHenry
during the War of 1812, Frances Scott Key watched. The next morning
the American flag still stood tall and proud. Inspired he wrote the
American National anthem based upon that scene. Little did he know
that within the walls of the Fort were Jews from Baltimore who were
years after the Etting affair, a Scotch Presbyterian immigrant named
Thomas Kennedy was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates from
Western Maryland. Kennedy an ardent believer in Jeffersonian
Republicanism had never known or for that matter had never met a Jew
in his life. In the State legislature in Annapolis, Maryland he
learned of the political denial of rights to Jews, non –
conformist Christians, Quakers, and atheists. He recognized that a
denial of rights to one group was a denial of rights to all.
dedicated his political career and his political life to changing the
law in what became known as the Jew Bill of Maryland. For eight years
he began what at first was a lonely struggle. It was soon picked up
and championed by other Western Maryland legislators. The ebb and
flow of the fight for the Jew Bill was among the single ugliest
political struggles in Maryland history. Charges and campaigns of
anti-Semitism and anti-Christian cries resounded from one of the
State to another.
was to be defeated for reelection by his anti-Jewish political
enemies. The banner of Jewish freedom fell from Kennedy's hands. It
was picked up and carried by another Western delegate from Washington
County, Col. Worthington. By the narrowest of margins, one vote, the
Jew Bill was passed. In 1826 the Constitution of Maryland was
changed. Jews could hold elected office. With the legislature of
1828, Reuben Etting was elected from the city of Baltimore, to the
Maryland House of Delegates.
struggle was the ugliest in Maryland but it was no less a struggle in
other States. As late as 1824 Massachusetts refused to do away with
its own Christian test oath rather than give Jews the right to hold
elected office there. No less than the prestige of the former
President of the United States, John Adams, was brought to bear in an
attempt to change the law, only to be defeated.
the Jew Bill of Maryland denial of political equality for Jews was
never again a major issue. Jews were still socially and economically
discriminated against but never again via the Constitution of a new
the outbreak of the Civil War, Jews could not serve as chaplains in
the U.S. armed forces. When the war commenced in 1861, Jews enlisted
in both the Union and Confederate armies. The Northern Congress
adopted a bill in July of 1861 that permitted each regiment's
commander, on a vote of his field officers, to appoint a regimental
chaplain so long as he was "a regularly ordained minister of
some Christian denomination."
Clement L. Vallandigham of Ohio, a non-Jew, protested that this
clause discriminated against soldiers of the Jewish faith.
Vallandigham argued that the Jewish population of the United States,
"whose adherents are . . . good citizens and as true patriots as
any in this country," deserved to have rabbis minister to Jewish
the law, which endorsed Christianity as the official religion of the
United States, was blatantly unconstitutional. However, there was no
organized national Jewish protest to support Vallandigham and the
bill sailed through Congress.
Three months later,
a YMCA worker visiting the field camp of a Pennsylvania regiment
known as "Cameron's Dragoons" discovered to his horror that
the officers had elected a Jew, Michael Allen, as regimental
chaplain. While not an ordained rabbi, Allen was fluent in the
Portuguese minhag (ritual) and taught at the Philadelphia Hebrew
Education Society. As Allen was neither a Christian nor an ordained
minister, the YMCA representative filed a formal complaint with the
Army. Obeying the recently enacted law, the Army forced Allen to
resign his post.
Hoping to create a
test case based strictly on a chaplain's religion and not his lack of
ordination, Colonel Max Friedman and the officers of the Cameron's
Dragoons then elected an ordained rabbi, the Reverend Arnold Fischel
of New York's Congregation Shearith Israel, to serve as regimental
chaplain-designate. When Fischel, a Dutch immigrant, applied for
certification as chaplain, the Secretary of War, none other than
Simon Cameron, for whom the Dragoons were named, complied with the
law and rejected Fischel's application.
stimulated American Jewry to action. The American Jewish press let
its readership know that Congress had limited the chaplaincy to those
who were Christians and argued for equal treatment for Judaism before
the law. This initiative by the Jewish press irritated a handful of
Christian organizations, including the YMCA, which resolved to lobby
Congress against the appointment of Jewish chaplains.
To counter their
efforts, the Board of Delegates of American Israelites, one of the
earliest Jewish communal defense agencies, recruited Reverend Fischel
to live in Washington, minister to wounded Jewish soldiers in that
city's military hospitals and lobby President Abraham Lincoln to
reverse the chaplaincy law. Although today several national Jewish
organizations employ representatives to make their voices heard in
Washington; Fischel's mission was the first such undertaking of this
Armed with letters
of introduction from Jewish and non-Jewish political leaders, Fischel
met on December 11, 1861 with President Lincoln to press the case for
Jewish chaplains. Fischel explained to Lincoln that, unlike many
others who were waiting to see the president that day, he came not to
seek political office, but to "contend for the principle of
religious liberty, for the constitutional rights of the Jewish
community, and for the welfare of the Jewish volunteers."
Fischel, Lincoln asked questions about the chaplaincy issues, "fully
admitted the justice of my remarks . . . and agreed that something
ought to be done to meet this case." Lincoln promised Fischel
that he would submit a new law to Congress "broad enough to
cover what is desired by you in behalf of the Israelites."
Lincoln kept his
word, and seven months later, on July 17, 1862, Congress finally
adopted Lincoln's proposed amendments to the chaplaincy law to allow
"the appointment of brigade chaplains of the Catholic,
Protestant and Jewish religions." In historian Bertram Korn's
opinion, Fischel's "patience and persistence, his unselfishness
and consecration ... won for American Jewry the first major victory
of a specifically Jewish nature . . . on a matter touching the
concluded, "Because there were Jews in the land who cherished
the equality granted them in the Constitution, the practice of that
equality was assured, not only for Jews, but for all minority
Ulysses S. Grant
Abraham Lincoln interceded on behalf of Jewish Americans again
a year later.
1862, in the heat of the Civil War, General Ulysses S. Grant
initiated one of the most blatant official episodes of anti-Semitism
in 19th-century American history. In December of that year, Grant
issued his infamous General
Order No. 11, which expelled all Jews from
Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi:
The Jews, as a class
violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury
Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the
department [the "Department of the Tennessee," an
administrative district of the Union Army of occupation composed of
Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi] within twenty-four hours from
the receipt of this order.
Post commanders will
see to it that all of this class of people be furnished passes and
required to leave, and any one returning after such notification will
be arrested and held in confinement until an opportunity occurs of
sending them out as prisoners, unless furnished with permit from
headquarters. No passes will be given these people to visit
headquarters for the purpose of making personal application of trade
The immediate cause
of the expulsion was the raging black market in Southern cotton.
Although enemies in war, the North and South remained dependent on
each other economically. Northern textile mills needed Southern
cotton. The Union Army itself used Southern cotton in its tents and
uniforms. Although the Union military command preferred an outright
ban on trade, President Lincoln decided to allow limited trade in
control that trade, Lincoln insisted it be licensed by the Treasury
Department and the army. As commander of the Department of the
Tennessee, Grant was charged with issuing trade licenses in his area.
As cotton prices soared in the North, unlicensed traders bribed Union
officers to allow them to buy Southern cotton without a permit. As
one exasperated correspondent told the Secretary of War, ‘Every
colonel, captain or quartermaster is in a secret partnership with
some operator in cotton; every soldier dreams of adding a bale of
cotton to his monthly pay.’
In the fall of 1862,
Grant's headquarters were besieged by merchants seeking trade
permits. When Grant's own father appeared one day seeking trade
licenses for a group of Cincinnati merchants, some of whom were Jews,
Grant's frustration overflowed.
A handful of the
illegal traders were Jews, although the great majority were not. In
the emotional climate of the war zone, ancient prejudices flourished.
The terms “Jew,” “profiteer,” “speculator”
and “trader” were employed interchangeably. Union
commanding General Henry W. Halleck linked “traitors and Jew
peddlers.” Grant shared Halleck's mentality, describing “the
Israelites” as “an intolerable nuisance.”
In November 1862,
convinced that the black market in cotton was organized “mostly
by Jews and other unprincipled traders,” Grant ordered that “no
Jews are to be permitted to travel on the railroad southward [into
the Department of the Tennessee] from any point,” nor were they
to be granted trade licenses. When illegal trading continued, Grant
issued Order No. 11 on December 17, 1862.
enforced the order at once in the area surrounding Grant's
headquarters in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Some Jewish traders had
to trudge 40 miles on foot to evacuate the area. In Paducah,
Kentucky, military officials gave the town's 30 Jewish families—all
long-term residents, none of them speculators and at least two of
them Union Army veterans—24 hours to leave.
A group of Paducah's
Jewish merchants, led by Cesar Kaskel, dispatched an indignant
telegram to President Lincoln, condemning Grant's order as an
“enormous outrage on all laws and humanity, ... the grossest
violation of the Constitution and our rights as good citizens under
it.” Jewish leaders organized protest rallies in St. Louis,
Louisville and Cincinnati, and telegrams reached the White House from
the Jewish communities of Chicago, New York and Philadelphia.
Cesar Kaskel arrived
in Washington on Jan. 3, 1863, two days after the Emancipation
Proclamation went into effect. There he conferred with influential
Jewish Republican Adolphus Solomons, then went with a Cincinnati
congressman, John A. Gurley, directly to the White House. Lincoln
received them promptly and studied Kaskel's copies of General Order
No. 11 and the specific order expelling Kaskel from Paducah. The
President told Halleck to have Grant revoke General Order No. 11,
which he did in the following message:
to be General Orders, No. 11, issued by you December 17, has been
presented here. By its terms, it expels (sic) all Jews from your
such an order has been issued, it
will be immediately revoked.
Grant revoked the
order three days later.
0n January 6, a
delegation led by Rabbi Isaac M. Wise of Cincinnati, called on
Lincoln to express its gratitude that the order had been rescinded.
Lincoln received them cordially expressed surprise that Grant had
issued such a command and stated his conviction that “to
condemn a class is, to say the least, to wrong the good with the
bad.” He drew no distinction between Jew and Gentile, the
president said, and would allow no American to be wronged because of
his religious affiliation.
the war, Grant transcended his anti-Semitic reputation. He carried
the Jewish vote in the presidential election of 1868 and named
several Jews to high office. But General Order No. 11 remains a
blight on the military career of the general who saved the Union.”
Grant was anti-Semitic or he simply signed an order without being
fully cognizant of its contents and implications has been argued
repeatedly over the years. What is factual is that as President,
Grant was a friend to Jews and Jewish concerns. He was the first
president to attend the dedication of a Jewish house of worship, Adas
Israel in Washington, D.C. He firmly placed American support against
the rabid anti-Semitism of Russia and appointed Jews to high office.
Jews responded to Grant with overwhelming electoral support.
Grant Avenue, a few hundred yards away from Chaplain’s Hill, is
the gravesite of British Major General Orde Wingate. Wingate, an
ardent supporter of Zionism and the Jewish right of self defense in
Palestine, is largely credited as one of the founding fathers of the
Israel Defense Forces. Wingate’s remains were retrieved from
the jungle crash site of his American transport plane shot down in
Burma during World War II. They were indistinguishable from the
American crew’s. They were all brought back and reinterred in
Arlington National Cemetery.
of any urgings from any Jew or Jewish organization, Kreitzer knew
that Goode’s name deserved to be among the honored Chaplains on
Chaplain Hill. He knew that Jews, as Americans in common with their
Christian fellow citizens, deserved proper and fair recognition for
their service and sacrifice. Kreitzer contacted the Jewish War
Veterans of America in Washington, D.C. They arranged for Kreitzer
to meet with -Rabbi Harold L. Robinson.
Rabbi Robinson was a recently retired Rear Admiral in the United
States Navy. He had been the highest ranking Jew in the American
Armed Forces and the man in charge of all Chaplains when he was on
and Rabbi Robinson united in common effort to correct what had been a
long “oversight.” Their joint efforts quickly raised
support from Jewish and non-Jewish organizations nationwide. A
petition supporting the project was begun. Voluntary subscriptions
provided the funding necessary for an expanded marker project. The
objective was to erect, on Chaplains Hill, a fourth monument that
would carry Rabbi Goode’s name but also the 12 other names of
American Jewish Chaplains who have died in service to America. A
brass marker was designed and approved by the Fine Arts Commission.
brass Marker for Chaplains Hill
effort labored on, for almost five years without success. The
administrators of Arlington National Cemetery placed one more major
hurtle before Kreitzer, Rabbi Robinson and their supporters. Because
of an administrative scandal at Arlington in the 1980’s,
Congress passed a law that no new memorials could be erected without
Congressional approval. The administrators required a Congressional
Resolution passed by both House of Congress affirming the effort to
erect a fourth monument on Chaplains Hill for Jewish Service Men and
frustrating administrative logjam was finally broken this year.
Congressional resolutions in favor of the historic memorial marker
for Chaplain’s Hill were introduced. House Congressional
Resolution # 12 was introduced under the leadership of New York
Congressman Anthony Weiner (D) and Florida Congressman Tom Rooney (R)
along with 82 co-House sponsors, January 25, 2011. “Expressing
the sense of Congress that an appropriate site on Chaplains Hill in
Arlington National Cemetery should be provided for a memorial marker
to honor the memory of the Jewish chaplains who died while on active
duty in the Armed Forces of the United States.”
Congressional Resolution # 4 was introduced, January 26, 2011, under
the leadership of New York Senator Charles Schumer along with 27
co-Senate sponsors. “A concurrent
resolution expressing the sense of Congress that an appropriate site
on Chaplains Hill in Arlington National Cemetery should be provided
for a memorial marker to honor the memory of the Jewish chaplains who
died while on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States.”
27, 2011 the resolution was approved by the United States Congress.
June 24, 2011 the project to erect a memorial for Jewish Chaplains on
Chaplains Hill was referred to the Subcommittee on Disability
Assistance and Memorial Affairs.
with Ken Kreitzer and being in contact with Rabbi Robinson a few days
ago, they shared some of the elaborate plans being worked on for the
dedication. They envision the plaque will tour American cities from
Boston to Florida before returning to Arlington for installation on
the memorial stone on Chaplain’s Hill.
68 years after his death, Rabbi Goode will finally be recognized at
Arlington National Cemetery. Rabbi Goode was born in New York to
Rabbi Hyman Goodekowitz. He grew up in the tight knit small
Washington, D.C. Jewish community. He attended Eastern High School
where he was a star football player. Goode went on to study at
Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati coming back to Washington in the
summers, before his ordination, to work at the Washington Hebrew
Congregation. Good married a niece of famed American popular music
personality Al Jolson both of whom had been Washingtonians. Before
being shipped out, Goode was affronted by anti-Semitism but it did
not deter him from doing his duty as an American.
24, 2011, on Chaplain’s Hill, a long, long overdue historic
marker will be dedicated remembering and honoring not just Lt., Rabbi
Goode of the U.S. Army but also 12 other American Jewish Chaplains
who gave their all for America. It will be the 150th
anniversary of American Jews as chaplains in the United States Armed
Klinger is President of the Jewish American Society for Historic
can be contacted at Jashp1@msn.com