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Honoring Jewish war chaplains

Veteran David Rivkin fondly remembered his Jewish chaplain who bravely served alongside him and guided him spiritually during the Korean War.
Now, Congressmember Anthony Weiner has introduced legislation that will honor Jewish chaplains who died while serving in the military with a memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.
Arlington National Cemetery currently has a memorial for Catholic and Protestant chaplains, as well as a hill honoring all chaplains, but nothing honoring Jewish chaplains – who have served in the military since 1862.
“In the case of the Jewish chaplains in the military for literally generations, they have provided service, and in many cases dying in action, and there has been no recognition,” said Weiner, who added there is no good reason that there has not been memorial dedicated to these chaplains.
The memorial – which will be privately funded – will consist of a plaque and a headstone honoring the 13 Jewish chaplains who have been killed while serving overseas during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
“We are hopeful that list never grows and we never need to add another chaplain to this memorial when it’s built,” said Weiner. “We know full well the chaplains put themselves in harm’s way, just as much as the troops that they serve.”
Currently, there are 32 Jewish chaplains serving the 1,800 Jewish soldiers now overseas.
Twenty-three members of Congress have already signed on as co-sponsors of the legislation in two months. Weiner said he hopes many more will choose to sponsor the legislation by Jewish Heritage Month in May and are at least able to consider the legislation on the floor of Congress.
Joining Weiner at the press conference at Kew Forest Jewish War Veterans Post in Rego Park were members from various Jewish War Veterans Posts.
Rivkin, commander of post 415, remembered his chaplain Ivan Caine. He recalled when the chaplain, a real “gung-ho guy,” got the captain’s O.K. to let him head into the field with the soldiers on a fire mission.
“He was in the field with us when we shot our canyons,” Rivkin said.
But more importantly, Caine was a guide for Rivkin and anyone else, not just Jewish soldiers, who needed it.
“He helped me in the case where I was involved in a fight in my unit where they tried to beat me up. He thought it was good for me – it was part of growing up,” said Rivkin. “He was probably right.”
Rivkin said Caine made it home safe and sound, but not all the Jewish chaplains that served were so lucky.

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