The William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History is a treasure trove of information about Jewish Detroiters in the military.

From its first issue in 1942, the JN has covered Jewish men and women serving in the military, from the massive enlistment in the U.S. armed forces during WWII to the modern era to “Lone Soldiers” in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The JN has continued to publish stories about Jewish service members for the past 80 years. 

To this point, see the cover story about Rachel Baker in this week’s issue. Nineteen-year-old Pfc. Baker is a member of the Michigan National Guard and the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A (JWV).

The William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History is a treasure trove of information about Jewish Detroiters in the military. A search using the word “military” brings up 25,000 entries; the word “War” is cited more than 73,000 times. Of course, “war” is a generic term that is used in such phrases as “war on poverty” or “war against crime,” so not all of the above pages address Jewish women and men in the service.

However, the search term “Jewish War Veterans” raises more than 7,000 pages. Like this week’s report on Pfc. Baker, these stories are about Jewish veterans as well the JWV itself.

Nearly every man or woman serving in the U.S. Armed Forces or the IDF has left a family behind. There are many stories in the Archive about a mom and dad or a wife or husband or children on the home front, doing their best to provide support for their loved ones in the armed forces.

I found many informative stories about the home front in the Davidson Archive. They begin with the Jewish Chronicle, which launched in 1916 during WWI. An advertisement for the Navy in the July 12, 1918, issue attempted to assuage the fears of mothers by listing all the benefits for their sons. In his first “Youth’s Listening Post” column in 1942, Danny Raskin wrote that more than half of the girls in the Young People’s Club at Temple Israel had completed their training as USO hostesses (March 27, 1942, JN). During WWII, the USO provided vital home front social activities for those serving in the U.S. military. 

The May 21, 2009, issue of the JN features a Suzanne Chessler review of Standing By. Written by Alison Buckholtz, this book is her very personal story of life on the home front as the wife of a Jewish Navy pilot.

“Readying for War” in the March 21, 2003, JN, is an excellent feature article that speaks to our recent history. Published just as the U.S. is about to launch a major military operation in Iraq, it summed up the thoughts of many Michigan Jewish families regarding their loved ones who were on duty: “Local families with children brace for uncertainty but find some support.”

General of the Union in the American Civil War, William Tecumseh Sherman, succinctly stated: “War is hell.” Anyone who has experienced combat knows this is true. Unfortunately, we must prepare to defend America and support those who are currently fighting the good fight in Israel, the Ukraine and elsewhere. 

While we honor those who fight and sacrifice on our behalf, it is also good to remember those on the home front who do their part to support those in the armed forces. 

Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at
www.djnfoundation.org.

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