Thank you, veterans – on Veterans Day!
Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun has been holding a Veterans Shabbat for several years, and this year it will fall on Veterans Day, Friday, Nov. 11. Congregant veterans will be leading the service on the day America says thank you.
“We feel it’s important that we honor those who … have fought for the ideals of our country, for freedom,” said Rabbi Marc E. Berkson, spiritual leader for the Milwaukee North Shore congregation.
The synagogue Brotherhood solicits stories of veterans from within the congregation, in connection with the annual Veterans Shabbat. Over the last two years, volunteers have accumulated more than 50 of these biographies, which are published in newsletters and online.
The congregation hosts a speaker for its Veterans Shabbat annually. This year’s speaker will be Jeremy Otto, veterans program specialist at the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs. Otto will discuss “Benefits, Programs and Services for Wisconsin Veterans and their Families.” Prior speakers have included someone about to head out on an Afghan relief project and a representative from the Jewish Veterans of the United States of America.
Some who are honored by the Veterans Shabbat have served in combat, while others did not – all are valued.
“We’ve been trying to stress non-combat roles … because most people don’t think about that,” said Gary Engel, chairman of the Veterans Shabbat committee and vice president for the synagogue Brotherhood. “All Americans should be thankful for the service that these people will give to the country.”
The Veterans Shabbat was started by the synagogue’s Brotherhood, with coordination by Engel, past president Mark Holland, secretary Bruce Resnick, and others. The president of the Brotherhood is Robert Jacobs.
Besides veterans leading the service, Berkson will read a prayer and perhaps the famous poem, “The Young Dead Soldiers Do Not Speak.”
Though the Veterans Service is to honor all veterans, the inspiration, at least in part “was a sense to that many of my father’s generation who, who fought in World War II, were disappearing so quickly. And I think there was an urgency.”
The rabbi’s father, a U.S. veteran, will be among those honored and remembered.