The dedication of Arlington National Cemetery’s Jewish Chaplains Memorial plaque took place on Monday, October 24 at the Memorial Amphitheater. A reception followed at the Women in Military Service For America Memorial.
The memorial honors the fourteen Jewish chaplains who have perished in the nation’s wars from World War II to today–and whose names had not been inscribed on any monuments on Arlington’s Chaplains Hill. That omission was discovered four years ago by Ken Kraetzer, the host of the “American Legion Veterans Segment” show on WVOX radio in Westchester, N.Y. Kraetzer then worked with Jewish War Veterans of America and the Jewish Welfare Board’s Jewish Chaplains Council on a campaign to raise private funds to build the new memorial. In the months before the dedication, the memorial plaque had a tour of Jewish community centers and synagogues in ten states.
The fourteen chaplains honored on the memorial include four who died in Vietnam: Army Lt. Col. Rabbi Meir Engle, the first Jewish chaplain in Vietnam who died of a heart attack in 1964; Air Force Capt. Rabbi Joseph I. Hoenig, who was killed in a transport plane crash in Vietnam also in 1964; Army Capt. Rabbi Morton Harold Singer, who died in a plane crash in 1968; and Air Force Capt. Rabbi David Sobel, who was killed in an automobile accident in Thailand in 1974.
Those who participated in the ceremonies included Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), who chairs the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee; Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla., below ); and the West Point Jewish Choir. Also on hand: a contingent from Vietnam Veterans of America, including National President John Rowan.