By: Chaplain, Maj Dovid Grossman, CAP
As Americans, we owe a debt of gratitude to those who raised a hand in oath to serve our country and gave up their personal freedoms to guarantee ours. This is especially true for Jewish American veterans, who have a long and proud history of service to the United States.
From the American Revolution to the present day, Jewish Americans have fought in every major conflict, often at great personal sacrifice. They have served in every branch of the military, and held every rank from private to general.
In addition to their military service, Jewish American veterans have made significant contributions to American society. They are leaders in business, science, government, and the arts. Veterans are also active in their communities, working to make the world a better place.
The Value of Religious Freedom
As Jews, we understand the value of religious freedom through our collective history. We have fought for freedom of religion throughout the ages and in nearly every country, not just for ourselves but for everyone. Religious freedom is not something to take for granted.
That is why we are so grateful to Jewish American veterans who have given the prime of their lives to protect our religious freedom, ensuring that our country remains a beacon of hope and light to the world.
These young men and women understand the value of something so much bigger than themselves that they’re comfortable with giving away personal freedoms—because they’re serving something so much greater.
This parallels the Jewish commitment to Torah values.
The Value of Torah Learning
The Jewish people have a mandated mission from G-d to be a “light unto the nations.” Service members understand this responsibility well. Our commitment to Torah learning and mitzvah observance ensures that we live ethical and moral lives. The Torah gives us the necessary tools to succeed in this mission.
Jewish American veterans who served our country have demonstrated the power of Torah learning. They show that it is possible to live a life of meaning and purpose even in the midst of war and conflict. A prime example of this is US Marines Staff Sgt Bernard Haller, a proud Jewish American who served in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Regardless of what was going on around him, he put on tefillin every day and abstained from eating non-kosher meat.
Honoring Jewish American Veterans
Veterans can’t go it alone. We can acknowledge their service when we show gratitude and respect by:
• Personal calls and visits
• Cards and holiday gifts
• Social and recreational activities
• Educational programs
• Spiritual guidance and counseling
We are grateful for the service and sacrifice of Jewish American veterans. They have made our country a stronger and more just place. We are proud to honor them and to thank them for their service.
Originally published in the Tishrei 2023 issue of The Jewish American Warrior magazine.