Four Buried on Chaplain's Hill

    August 2011          
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Four Immortal Chaplains

By Jerry Klinger

Freedom is a work in progress – William Rabinowitz

Too 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 workers.

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 Comanche.

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 Dorchester.
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 them.

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.

One 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."

Another sailor, 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.

"Never mind," 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."
That 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.”1

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 Chaplains.2 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, No. 9.

"It was 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?"

"Then I remembered my friend, Irving Geist, the philanthropist, and the invaluable contributions he had made in the Four Chaplains organization to help paraplegics.

"THE FOUR CHAPLAINS. That was it. What better symbol of Interfaith in Action?

"Four immortal 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.

Suddenly Postmaster 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."

"Yes, 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" 3

The stamp was most likely the first time in American postal history that a stamp was conceived, designed and advanced to issue by Jews.

A made for T.V. movie was produced in 2004, The Four Chaplains, Sacrifice at Sea.4 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. 5 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.

Five 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.

Custis-Lee Mansion Arlington, National Cemetery

Arlington National 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 purposes.’

Arlington National 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.

The federal 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.”6

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.

Arlington Cemetery is a place of quiet rest and living history testifying to the meaning of America.

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.

Chaplain’s Hill

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 America.

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.

American 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.

In 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.

One 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 themselves.

Virginia 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."

It 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.

The 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.

The 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.

A 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.

As 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 defending it.

Seventeen 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.

Kennedy 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.

Kennedy 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.

The 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.

After 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 State.

“At 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."

Only Representative 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 soldiers.

Vallandigham thought 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.

Fischel's rejection 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 type.

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."

According to 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 Federal government."

Korn 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 religious groups."7

President Ulysses S. Grant

Abraham Lincoln interceded on behalf of Jewish Americans again a year later.

“In 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 permits.

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 Southern cotton.

To 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.

Subordinates 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:

A paper purporting 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 department. If 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.

After 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.”8

Whether 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.

General Wingate

On 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.

Independent 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 active service.

Kreitzer 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.

Jewish brass Marker for Chaplains Hill

The 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 Women.

The 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.”

Senate 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.”

May 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.

Speaking 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.

Almost 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.

October 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 Forces.

Jerry Klinger is President of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation.

He can be contacted at








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For more articles on Contemporary Jewish History, see our Contemporary Jewish History Archives


from the August 2011 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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