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Thirteen chaplains: A full report

Full biographical sketches of the 13 Jewish chaplains who died on active duty in the U.S. military, courtesy of Jewish Federations of North America:

1. Nachman S. Arnoff
Rank: Captain, US Army
Born: Russia, October 2, 1899
Arrived in America, December 1909
Naturalized 1926
Married, no children
Education: BA, City College of New York, 1923
Ordination: Jewish Theological Seminary, NY, 1924
Affiliation: Conservative
Date of Death: May 9, 1946 (automobile accident)

Like so many of the Jewish chaplains who served in World War II, Rabbi Arnoff was an immigrant from Europe who felt that his duty to his adopted home and to his people required him to volunteer for the chaplaincy despite the fact that he would have been considered too old for military service. Before joining he Army in 1943, Rabbi Arnoff was the spiritual leader of Bnai Israel Congregation, a Conservative synagogue in Chicago. In 1944, he was promoted to the rank of captain.

Fluent in Hebrew, Yiddish and German with an understanding of Russian and French, Arnoff was well-suit to help Jewish Holocaust survivors communicate with the US Army of Occupation in Germany. WHAT DID HE DO THERE?

Ironically, chaplain Arnoff died in a car accident on May 9, 1946 while on his way to Fort Dix, NJ, where he was to be discharged.
2. Meir Engel
Rank: Lt. Colonel, US Army
Born: Tel Aviv, Palestine, 1914
Education: MA from Hebrew University, Jerusalem (Biblical archaeology)
Ordination: Jewish Theological Seminary, NY, 1942.
Affiliation: Orthodox
Date of Death: 12/16/1964

Rabbi Meir Engel left his pulpit at Brith Shalom Community Center of Philadelphia in 1943 to volunteer to serve in the Army of his adopted country. After serving in the Pacific Theatre and Occupied Japan, Engel became congregational rabbi of the Hebrew Congregation of Greensboro, NC in 1946 and Congregation Sons of Abraham Beverly MA in 1947.

Engel was recalled to duty during the Korean War, and chose to complete his career in the military. He was one of the very few chaplains to serve in those two theatres, plus Viet Nam. From 1954 to 1957, Engel served as the Jewish Affairs advisor to the US Army Command (Europe) in Heidelberg, Germany. After tours of duty at Fort Dix and Fort Ord stateside, he became the first American Jewish chaplain to serve in Viet Nam. He died of medical causes at the US Naval Hospital in Saigon. Following is a list of the military medals and awards he earned.

Asiatic-Pacific and American Campaign Medals
Army of Occupation Medals (Japan and Germany)
Korean Service Medal
World War II Victory Medal
United Nations Service Medal
Armed Forces Reserve Medal
Army Commendation Medals (Ft. Dix, Ft. Ord)
Viet Nam Medal of Honor (posthumous)
B’nai B’rith Four Chaplains Award

3. Frank Goldenberg
November 8, 1919 Budapest, Hungary
Naturalized 1939
Arrived 1923
Single
BS CCNY 1940
JTS 1944
Conservative
Temple Beth-el Utica NY
Member of the ZOA
NCCJ, Inter-Racial Council
JTS Religion and Labor Fund
Commissioned 4/26/45
1st Lt.
Assigned to HQ, 42nd Division, Salzburg, Austria
Killed in jeep accident May 1946, Melk, Austria
Buried May 23, 1946

4. Alexander Goode

Alexander D. Goode (May 10, 1911 ““ February 3, 1943) was a rabbi and a lieutenant in the United States Army. He was one of the Four Chaplains who gave their lives to save other soldiers during the sinking of the USAT Dorchester during World War II

Born in 1911, one of four children to a Brooklyn rabbi, Goode excelled at sports at high school in Washington, D.C. He became a rabbi after graduating from the University of Cincinnati and in 1937 Hebrew Union College. In 1940 he received his Ph.D from Johns Hopkins University. He was married in 1935 to Teresa Flax, niece of Al Jolson, with whom he had one daughter, Rosalie.
Goode served as a rabbi in Marion, Indiana and York, Pennsylvania.
In 1941, he applied to become a Navy chaplain but was turned down. The following year he was accepted into the Army, being posted to Harvard where he studied at the chaplain’s school in preparation for deployment to Europe followed by brief service at an airbase in Goldsboro, North Carolina. In October 1942 he joined the other members of the Four Chaplains and was detailed to embark on the Dorchester a few months later.

In late 1942, Goode was transferred to Camp Myles Standish in Taunton, Massachusetts and attended Chaplains School at Harvard University. There he met fellow chaplains George L. Fox, Clark V. Poling and John P. Washington. In January 1943, the chaplains embarked on board the USAT Dorchester, which was transporting over 900 soldiers to the United Kingdom via Greenland.
On February 2, 1943 the German submarine U-223 spotted the convoy on the move and closed with the ships, firing a torpedo which struck the Dorchester shortly after midnight. Hundreds of men packed the decks of the rapidly sinking ship and scrambled for the lifeboats. Several of the lifeboats had been damaged and the four chaplains began to organize frightened soldiers. They distributed life jackets from a locker; when the supply of life jackets ran out, each of the chaplains gave theirs to other soldiers. When the last lifeboats were away, the chaplains prayed with those unable to escape the sinking ship. 27 minutes after the torpedo struck, the Dorchester disappeared below the waves with 672 men still aboard. The last anyone saw of the four chaplains, they were standing on the deck, arms linked and praying together.[1]

The four chaplains were all awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Purple Heart and received national acclaim for their courage and self-sacrifice. A chapel in their honor was dedicated on February 3, 1951 by President Harry S. Truman at Grace Baptist Church in Philadelphia. The Four Chaplains’ Medal was established by act of Congress on July 14, 1960, and was presented posthumously to their next of kin by Secretary of the Army Wilber M. Brucker at Ft. Myer, Virginia on January 18, 1961 [2].
Goode is honored with a feast day along with the other Four Chaplains on the liturgical of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America on February 3.

Chaplain’s Medal for Heroism · Distinguished Service Cross · Purple Heart

Jewish Treats brings you the sad but heroic story of Rabbi Lieutenant Alexander D. Goode.

Ordained by Hebrew Union College in 1937, Rabbi Goode took his first position in Marion, Indiana, and then served as the rabbi of Beth Israel Synagogue in York, Pennsylvania (while earning a Ph.D. in Oriental Languages from John Hopkins University). In 1942, he was accepted as a military chaplain in the U.S. Armed Forces.

In January 1943, Rabbi Goode began his first, and only, naval voyage aboard the USAT Dorchester, which was transporting over 900 soldiers to Britain via Greenland. He was one of four chaplains on board (along with Methodist Reverend George L. Fox, Roman Catholic Priest John P. Washington and Reformed Church in America Reverend Clark V. Poling).

Just after midnight on February 3, 1943, a German U-boat torpedoed the Dorchester. Tragically, not only was the ship sinking fast, but there weren’t enough lifeboats or life jackets. Within half an hour of being hit, the Dorchester sank with 672 men still aboard. And while survivors had a horrid tale to tell (of bodies freezing in the icy water), they also spoke with awe and respect for the four chaplains.

In all the chaos, Rabbi Goode, Reverend Fox, Father Washington and Reverend Poling remained calm as they comforted and organized the soldiers and gave away their own life jackets and gloves. Numerous survivors reported that the last thing they saw before the ship sank was the four chaplains standing on deck, arm in arm, praying.

Rabbi Goode was 32 years old and was survived by his wife, Teresa (a niece of Al Jolson) and his daughter Rosalie.

In 1948, an act of Congress designated February 3rd as Four Chaplains Day.

6. Henry Goody
April 2, 1916
Canada
Citizen of Canada
Married
University of Manitoba, 1936
JTA, 1941
Conservative
Congregation Bnai Israel, Greensburg, PA 1941-42
“Interested in Interfaith work”

From:
Washington DC Times-Herald
October 20, 1943

“An Army chaplain was killed late yesterday and his wife and several other persons were injured when a northbound street car plowed into the officer’s automobile at the intersection of 14th and Upshur Street, NW, jumped the tracks and came to rest against a tree 150 feet away.

Victim of the spectacular accident was Lt. Henry Goody, 26, a Jewish chaplain stationed at Ft. Belvoir, whose body was hurled from his crumpled car 25 feet to a gutter across the street. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the Walter Reed Hospital, where his wife, Reba, 23, who had to be extricated from the car, was rushed to the operating room shotly after being admitted. Her condition was critical.”

JWB noted that Reba was suffering frm a brokemn leg and shock, but had regained consciousness.

7. Samuel Dodkin Hurwitz
Krechev, Russia
October 24, 1901
Arrived 1904
Naturalized
Married
U Cincinnati 1925
HUC 1929
U of Chicago Divinity School
Boy Scout master, choir and sports leader.
Hebrew, Yiddish, German and Spanish
Moses Montefiore Congregation, Bloomington IL(last)
Kol Shearith Israel in Panama City, Panama
Beth Israel in Phoenix

Died at McCloskey General Hospital, Temple, TX on December 9, 1943 after one-month illness.

Assigned to Camp Wolters, TX, May 1941.
Major, assistant camp chaplain.
8. Samuel Rosen
February 12, 1907
Lomza, Poland
Arrive d Us, July 20, 1920
Naturalized Feb 3, 1923
Married, three children
CCNY 1933 BS
Yeshiva college, 1929 Smicha
Orthodox
B’nai Israel, Brooklyn
Anshe Emeth, Brooklyn

The commission has just learned with grief of the untimely death of chaplain (Lt. Col.) Samuel Rosen at Randolph Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.

Rabbi Rosen was ordained at the Yeshiva College in 1929 and had studied earlier at the famous Lomzer Yeshiva in his native city of Lomza, Poland. He held a degree from C.C.N.Y. and had been admitted to the New York Bar in 1940.

He served as spiritual leader of two important Orthodox congregations in Brooklyn, N. Y. from 1929 to 1942, when he became a chaplain. From then until the time of his death, Rabbi Rosen remained in military service continuously. Until recently, he was stationed in the European theater. He served faithfully in the vineyard of the Lord and was loved by the thousands of Jewish men and women to whom he ministered. His fellow chaplains held him in the highest esteem.
9. Solomon Rosen
May 11, 1924
New York City
Married, no children
NYU 1946, BS Ed.
Mesifta Rabbincal Seminary, 1946
Orthodox
Army: June 1946-May 1947, Pvt. First Class
US Army, Airborne Infantry (Paratroops) Chaplains’ Corps (Enlisted Section)
Fill in the rest

Chaplain (1st Lt,) Solomon Rosen, 24, of Brooklyn, the newest Jewish chaplain to enter the Armed Services of the United states, was one of eleven Air Force officers killed in the disintegration of a transport plane Monday in eastern Oklahoma. Identification of the Brooklyn Air Force chaplain was made to the Division of Religious Activities, National Jewish Welfare Board (JWB), which had given Rosen ecclesiastical endorsement.

Chaplain Rosen, who was en route to his home, 3100 Brighton Third Street, on leave, had survived a previous air disaster, in 1945, when a B-29 he was in exploded in flight over Texas, also killing eleven men. He managed, then, to parachute to safety, with several others.

The son of the late Army Chaplain Herman L. Rosen, also of Brooklyn, who lost his life in a drowning accident off Brighton in 1943, Solomon had put aside his rabbinical studies during the war to serve with the Army as a paratrooper, making twelve non-combat jumps. Following his Army discharge, Rosen resumed his studies and was ordained by the Mesifta Rabbinical Seminary, Brooklyn, in 1946. A graduate, with the highest honors, of the Chaplains School at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, he had completed his first chaplaincy assignment at Scott Field, Ill., and was engaged in his second, at Sheppard Field, Texas. He had just completed heavy duties, arranging and conducting Jewish High Holy Day, Atonement, and Sukkoth services for the Jewish men in his area and was on his way home for a rest.

Chaplain Rosen leaves his wife, Violet, who had served with the War Records Bureau of JWB, his mother, Eva, and a brother, Ephraim,

####

11/2/48

10. Morton Harold Singer
New York City 10.25.36
Married, one child
CCNY 1959
Bachelor of Religious Education, YU
Yeshiva Tifereth Yerushalayim, Yorè Yorè, Lower East Side, NYC, 1965
Orthodox
Bronx Union YMHA Youth Leader
Athletic Director Great Neck NY Synagogue
Eastern Intercollegiate weighlifting champion, 1959
Brown belt karate expert who taught judo.
He combined strength and faith

Army captain and Jewish chaplain of I Corps Area, Viet Nam
Killed in plane crash while on a mission to conduct Chanukah services for his men. December 17, 1968. Left from Chu Lai Airfield, SVN

Buried on January 1, 1969 on the Mountain of Rest, Jerusalem, Israel.

Arrived in SVN in October and just before his death he wrote to the JWB Commission on Jewish Chaplaincy, “The men here need our service and look forward to our visits and ministration. There is no more responsive congregation anywhere than the men in the field.”

Had been a non-combatant volunteer in Israel’s Six-Day War of 1967.
Volunteered for Paratrooper School. Volunteered to serve in Viet Nam
His area required him to fly from Da Nang to Phu Bai to Chu Lai in order to bring services to the Jewish personnel
11. David M. Sobel
10/10/46
US
Single
Dartmouth College 1968
HUC 1973
Reform
Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation, Simsbury CT
Air Force
Died on Active duty March 8, 1974

12. Irving Tepper
December 15, 1912
Chicago

Hebrew Theological College, Chicago, 1939
Central YMCA Chicago BA 1936
Orthodox

Ohave Sholom, Rockford IL

Elgin, IL congregation
Also, Rabbi-director of Hapoel Hamizrachi of Chicago
Yiddish, Hebrew

Chaplain Irving Tepper, Jewish chaplain who served in the front lines in every campaign in the European theatre, was killed in action in France, on August 13, it was announced today (Sept. 1st). He was 31 years old.

Chaplain Tepper was attached to an infantry combat team in the Ninth Division. He was in the first wave to land under fire in Morocco on November 8, 1942. He saw action with his battalion in Tunisia and Sicily and again was among the first to land in France on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Always at the side of his soldiers wherever they went, Chaplain Tepper was loved and respected for his insistence on sharing the doughboy’s hardships. He was small, 5′ 6”, and slender. An officer described him lovingly as “a frail bundle of enthusiasm, 120 lbs. dripping wet.”

Recently a private wrote from France to a USO worker he had known at Fort Bragg:

“Do you remember Chaplain Tepper? Well he is doing a grand job. Whenever he has services the boys turn out in great numbers as a means of repaying him for what he did for us.

“He was in the thick of the African campaign and took chances that he did not have to take, but he wanted to be with us all the time.

“Chaplain Tepper is not only a great chaplain, but a great soldier. The boys are all crazy about him,”

His memory in the hearts of his soldiers is his epitaph.

Devoutly Orthodox, Chaplain Tepper never allowed artillery and mortar fire to interfere with his personal prayers. “No German is going to prevent me from davening (praying) my three times daily, 88s or no 88s,” he wrote from Africa.

In the same letter, addressed to the Committee on Army and Navy Religious Activities of the National Jewish Welfare Board, Chaplain Tepper described his marching equipment. He carried the Jewish chaplains’ guidon and flag on his shoulder, and in his belt, he always had some JWB prayer-books, songsters and calendars.

“These were my rifle and ammunition,” he wrote. With them he marched sis by side with his men into battle.

In his last letter to the National Jewish Welfare Board, Chaplain Tepper wrote:

“Greetings from a liberated area in France. Since the newspapers have carried my division’s exploits, you are no doubt familiar with recent doings. Nothing spectacular except doing chaplain’s work up at the front ““ beside getting some real scares and ducking 88s and other objects, which, Thank God, did not have my address on them.”

Soon after he wrote this letter, Chaplain Tepper was killed by a shell. A memorial service was over his grave in France by Chaplain Robert Marcus, attached to the Ninth Air force.

13. Louis Werfel
July 9, 1916
New York City
Married, no children
Yeshiva college 1937
REITS 1940
Orthodox
Knesseth Israel Synagogue Birmingham AL
Mt. Kisco Hebrew Congregation
Visiting Chaplain Ft. McClellan before entering service.
NCCJ
Commissioned August 1942
“This application is submitted after careful deliberation and is motivated by a recognition of what I consider to be my duty as a rabbi in Israel.”
Killed while on duty with the 12th Air Force Service Command in North Africa.
Plane crash, December 24, 1943. Age 27.

“Chaplain Werfel’s religious duties involved covering great distances by plane to serve Air Force men of Jewish faith at outlying points. Accordingly, he became known in this theater of war as ‘The Flying Rabbi.'”
The crash occurred while he was on his way to conduct Chanukah services.
He had physical disabilities that exempted him from overseas duties but he nevertheless requested war theatre duty. Had been in North Africa since June 1943. Werfel also assisted Jewish soldiers in the Free French Army in North Africa. His obituary reads, “The3 National Jewish Welfare Board is complying with his most recent request, which was for 10,000 copies, in French translation, for men of the Jewish faith in the Free French forces, of the Board’s prayer book.”

His brother Abraham Werfel was a private in the Army at the time of Rabbi Werfel’s death.

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