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Mission accomplished

In the service of their faith and their country

The most famous Jewish chaplain to fall in the line of duty was also the first.

Rabbi Alexander Goode was on board the U.S.S. Dorchester on Feb. 3, 1943, headed to England, when it was struck by German torpedoes off the coast of Greenland.

With three other chaplains – one Catholic, one Methodist, one Presbyterian – Goode stood on the deck of the sinking ship, helping to hand out life vests and calm the troops. When life vests ran out, the four chaplains handed their vests to four other soldiers. When the ship went down, they were last seen linked arm in arm, praying.

Of the 900 men aboard the ship, only 229 survived.

The heroism of the four chaplains made a mark during the war and after. They received posthumous medals for heroism and were the subject of a 1948 postage stamp with the caption “interfaith in action.”

The incident “still provides an example of a coming-together, that Jews can be and are equally American to any other faith group,” said Kevin M. Schultz, a history professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago whose book “Tri-Faith America: How Catholics and Jews Held Postwar America to Its Protestant Promise” was published by Oxford University Press last month.

“When searching for an example of why Jews should be included into America’s civil religion, there is hardly a better example out there for bravery, sacrifice, and inclusion than the story of Rabbi Goode and the four chaplains,” he said.

Here are the other chaplains, as listed and described by Monday’s congressional resolution providing for a memorial to them at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia:

“¢ Army Chaplain Rabbi Herman Rosen died in service of his faith and his country on June 18, 1943.

“¢ His son, Air Force Chaplain Solomon Rosen, also died in service of his faith and his country, on Nov. 2, 1948.

“¢ Army Chaplain Rabbi Henry Goody died in service of his faith and his country on Oct. 19, 1943.

“¢ Army Chaplain Rabbi Samuel Hurwitz died in service of his faith and his country on Dec. 9, 1943.

“¢ Army Chaplain Rabbi Irving Tepper was killed in action in France on Aug. 13, 1944.

Chaplain Tepper also saw combat in Morocco, Tunisia, and Sicily while attached to an infantry combat team in the Ninth Division.

“¢ Army Chaplain Rabbi Louis Werfel died on Dec. 24, 1944, at the young age of 27, in a plane crash while en route to conduct Chanukah services.

Chaplain Werfel was known as “The Flying Rabbi” because his duties required traveling great distances by plane to serve Army personnel of Jewish faith at outlying posts.

“¢ Army Chaplain Rabbi Nachman Arnoff died in service of his faith and his country on May 9, 1946.

“¢ Army Chaplain Rabbi Frank Goldenberg died in service of his faith and his country on May 22, 1946.

“¢ Air Force Chaplain Rabbi Samuel Rosen died in service of his faith and his country on May 13, 1955.

“¢ Army Chaplain Rabbi Meir Engel died at the Naval Hospital in Saigon, Vietnam, on Dec. 16, 1964, after faithfully serving his country during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

“¢ Army Chaplain Rabbi Morton Singer died on Dec. 17, 1968, in a plane crash while on a mission in Vietnam to conduct Chanukah services.

“¢ Air Force Chaplain Rabbi David Sobel died in service of his faith and his country on March 7, 1974.

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