A busy month for the JWV also included several post members being honored guests at the Holocaust Memorial Center’s (HMC) 37th annual anniversary benefit held Nov. 14.
Michigan Jewish War Veterans (JWV) were once again well represented at Veterans Day events this year, both as participants and as honorees.
Congregation Shaarey Zedek held its annual Veterans Shabbat on Saturday, Nov. 6. The program featured the Southfield Police Department Color Guard, which led a large processional of veterans down the center aisle of the sanctuary, with proud family members by their sides.
Rabbi Aaron Starr offered heartfelt remarks of thanks to our veterans, and Hazzan David Propis regaled the congregation with stirring renditions of the official songs of each branch of our military.
JWV members of Shaarey Zedek helped lead the special program, which included remarks from Dept. of Michigan Sr. Vice Commander Bill Glogower and Don Wagner, Michigan JWV Judge Advocate and chairman of the Shaarey Zedek Veterans Shabbat Committee. Veterans from different eras also were given aliyot throughout the service.
JWV-Michigan Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Don Schenk stepped in to share remarks from Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D-8th District). Slotkin, who serves as a member of the U.S. House committees on Armed Services, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs, was scheduled to appear but official business ended up requiring her to travel to Albania to meet with Afghan refugees.
“Our veterans — you all here today and your brothers and sisters across the country — have given us freedom, security and the greatest nation on Earth,” Slotkin said from her prepared remarks read by Schenk. “It is impossible to put a price on that. Thank you for your service to our country. Thank you for your service to our faith. Thank you for your service to our community. And thank you for the example you have set for our kids and grandkids.”
The Veterans Shabbat also introduced the winner of Shaarey Zedek’s inaugural Veterans Shabbat Essay Contest, open to teen congregants. Hugh Aaron, an eighth-grader at Detroit Country Day School, was this year’s winner.
“Throughout history, Jews have been fierce warriors, from the Maccabeans to the modern IDF,” Aaron said. “Jewish American veterans are no exception,” he added, citing that an estimated 4,000 Jewish Americans currently serve in our armed forces.
Under sun-drenched skies on Sunday, Nov. 7, local JWV and Women’s Auxiliary members turned out in force and were among the caravan of cars and banner-carrying marchers to participate in Detroit’s 16th annual Veterans Day Parade.
The festivities included the simultaneous running of the charity “4 Star 4 Mile Race” that followed the same route, winding its way through Corktown on Michigan Avenue and Vernor Highway. Proceeds benefited the parade’s sponsor — the Metropolitan Detroit Veterans Coalition.
On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, the JWV was officially recognized during the 17th annual Veterans Day ceremony at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly. Sr. Vice Commander Emeritus Arthur Fishman represented the JWV Dept. of Michigan and U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, back from her trip to Albania, was among the dignitaries in attendance.
Honored at HMC
A busy month for the JWV also included several post members being honored guests at the Holocaust Memorial Center’s (HMC) 37th annual anniversary benefit held Nov. 14 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. The JWV were given a warm round of applause after being asked to stand and be recognized.
The event marked the return of the annual in-person dinner after last year’s program was limited to a virtual presentation. The size of the venue allowed social distancing protocols to be implemented for the nearly 800 in attendance.
Nancy Grosfeld was honored for her philanthropy and community activism and support of the HMC. Renowned singer, songwriter, and pianist Michael Feinstein was the evening’s entertainment.
The JWV are bound by their motto of being “a Jewish voice for veterans, a veteran’s voice for Jews.” That commitment also includes charitable giving. Recent recipients of JWV donations included Koshertroops.com, which sends kosher food and holiday gift baskets to soldiers and service members around the globe.
Operation Benjamin (OB) will also be on the receiving end of a donation from the JWV. The mission of the Chestnut Ridge, New York-based organization is “to identify Jewish soldiers at American military cemeteries all over the world who were mistakenly buried under Latin crosses and replace headstones with a Star of David.” Shalom Lamm, CEO of Operation Benjamin, addressed the local JWV during a Zoom meeting on Nov. 21 in which he gave an overview on OB and their latest success stories.
The JWV’s support of all men and women who have served our nation proudly extends beyond the Jewish community. A donation by the JWV is being made to the Michigan Veterans Homes, a branch of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. The contribution will support the organization’s newest facility in Chesterfield Township that “provides long-term skilled nursing care and services that enhances the well-being of veterans in the place they call home.”
Finally, COVID-19 restrictions will unfortunately prevent the JWV and Women’s Auxiliary from embarking on their annual Dec. 25 Mitzvah Day bus trip to bring holiday greetings and gifts to the patients at the Battle Creek VA Medical Center. In lieu of an in-person visit, a donation will instead be made to help continue the JWV’s tradition of offering support for their fellow comrades that they so richly deserve, especially at this time of year.