By: Chaplain (1LT) Morris Kertzer, reprinted from “With an H on My Dog Tag”
It was [at Anzio] that I held a Passover Seder service in April of 1944. We were in a big tent in the pine woods near the Mussolini Canal at Anzio. Our artillery was shelling the enemy, only a thousand yards away. Because of the protection afforded by the thick pine forests, the Nazis did not know we had gathered 500 men and one nurse in the area. It was not a bright Passover. We had two candles, and I could not see most of the men seated on the sand before me. Our feast was meager; a piece of Matzah for each man, a drop of wine (flown by the Air Transport Command from Algiers) and some fruit salad. There was nothing else. We even omitted the bitter herbs. The moror, we said, was provided by the situation. Our spirits were light, though, and we remarked that it would be wise to eat the Matzah as quietly as possible, for the sound of many men crunching might well be heard by the enemy.
My assistant, PFC Joe Feigenbaum of Detroit, ran about among the men to make sure that everyone had at least a taste of Matzah. Joe would appear before me out of the dark and whisper exultantly: “What a crowd! What a wonderful seder!” He was thrilled that a Jewish chaplain had been flown all the way from the States to officiate on an occasion such as this. Until my arrival, he had served as substitute Jewish chaplain for the Third Division… Later, Joe gave up his life on Highway 6 on the road to Rome. The righteous ones, says our tradition, are greater in their death than in life. Joe… knew why he was fighting.
Reprinted from the Pesach 2022 issue of The Jewish American Warrior.