The Aug. 10, 1942, issue of the JN had a big headline: “Britain Grants Jews Palestine Regiment.” This was a big deal for several reasons. First, Jews had been fighting for the British since the beginning of World War II in 1939. But, having a Palestinian regiment was particularly symbolic.
In the British Army, the primary organizational unit was the regiment and had been so for hundreds of years. Fighting men took pride in their regiment membership, and they fought and died for the regimental flag.
The Palestine Regiment only existed for two years, but the more important result of their experience was not demonstrated until after World War II. Many future heroes of the IDF, who fought in 1948, 1956 and 1967, made their bones while serving in the Palestinian Regiment. It is also interesting to note that an estimated 1,200 members of the Regiment were Arabs.
And, it wasn’t just the men involved in the action. The front page also had a photograph of women in the military police as members of the PATS (Palestine Auxiliary Territorial Service) while men were fighting in the Palestine Regiment.
Inside the JN, there was an interesting story on page 10 about Osias Zwerdling, a civic leader from Ann Arbor. Zwerdling was the organizer and first president of the Beth Israel Congregation in that city and a familiar face to students from Hillel at the University of Michigan. Moreover, he devoted himself to numerous causes ranging from the Joint Distribution Committee in WWI and Navy Committees of the USO to the Boy Scouts and Ann Arbor Family and Children’s Service.
It seems Detroit may have had Fred Butzel and Max Fisher, but Ann Arbor had Osias Zwerdling.
Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.