Berg, Gertude (Molly Goldberg)
Brandeis, Louis D.
Ginsburg, Ruth Bader
Lehman, Herbert H.
Levy, Uriah P.
Magnes, Judah L.
Santangel, Luis de
Seixas, Gershom M.
Singer, Isaac B.
Straus, Isidor & Ida
Torres, Luis de
Wise, Isaac Mayer
Chaplains Rabbi Jacob Frankel (1808-1887) & Rabbi Alexander Goode (1911-1943)
Medal by Eugene Daub (2014), Rabbi Jacob Frankel, the first Jewish Chaplain, and Rabbi Alexander Goode, one of the Immortal Four Chaplains.
Frankel, the First U.S. Jewish Chaplain
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Jews could not serve as chaplains in the U.S. armed forces. When the war commenced in 1861, Jews enlisted in both the Union and Confederate armies. The Northern Congress adopted a bill in July of 1861 that permitted each regiment's commander, on a vote of his field officers, to appoint a regimental chaplain so long as he was "a regularly ordained minister of some Christian denomination."
Hoping to create a test … Colonel Max Friedman and the officers of the Cameron's Dragoons then elected an ordained rabbi, the Reverend Arnold Fischel of New York's Congregation Shearith Israel, to serve as regimental chaplain-designate. When Fischel, a Dutch immigrant, applied for certification as chaplain, the Secretary of War … complied with the law and rejected Fischel's application.
The Reverend Arnold Fischel, of
New York's Congregation
Shearith Israel, was turned down as a chaplain.
Fischel's rejection stimulated
American Jewry to action. Armed with letters of introduction from Jewish and
non-Jewish political leaders, Fischel met on December
11, 1861 with President Lincoln to press the case for Jewish chaplains. Fischel explained to Lincoln that, unlike many others who
were waiting to see the president that day, he came not to seek political
office, but to "contend for the principle of religious liberty, for the
constitutional rights of the Jewish community, and for the welfare of the
According to Fischel, Lincoln asked questions about the chaplaincy
issues, "fully admitted the justice of my remarks ... and agreed that
something ought to be done to meet this case." Lincoln promised Fischel that he would submit a new law to Congress
"broad enough to cover what is desired by you in behalf of the
Lincoln kept his word, and
seven months later, on July 17, 1862, Congress finally adopted Lincoln's
proposed amendments to the chaplaincy law to allow "the appointment of
brigade chaplains of the Catholic, Protestant and Jewish religions."
Historian Bertram Korn concluded, "Because there
were Jews in the land who cherished the equality granted them in the
Constitution, the practice of that equality was assured, not only for Jews, but
for all minority religious groups.
Almost as soon as the law changed, the Board of Ministers of the
Hebrew Congregations of Philadelphia requested a Jewish hospital chaplain.
Philadelphia was becoming "a central depository for sick and wounded
soldiers," and two soldiers of Jewish faith had already died without
benefit of clergy.
Frankel’s chaplaincy certificate, dated March 2, 1864.
Jacob Frankel's fellow clergymen nominated the
popular rabbi, nicknamed the "sweet singer of Israel,” and Lincoln signed
the commission on Sep. 18, 1862. For three years, he acted as Army chaplain,
singing, chanting, and praying with hospitalized and other soldiers.
Above text extracted from The Fight for Jewish Chaplains
chapter in Blessings of Freedom, by Michael Feldberg Ph.D.
Rabbi Alexander Goode, One of the Immortal
There are many stories of bravery among the American Military during World War II, but few have captured the imagination and admiration of Americans more than the Four Chaplains.
The Dorchester left New York on January 23, 1943, en route to Greenland, carrying the four chaplains and approximately 900 others, as part of a convoy of three ships.
During the early morning hours of February 3, 1943, at 12:55 a.m., the vessel was torpedoed by a German submarine off Newfoundland in the North Atlantic. The torpedo knocked out the Dorchester's electrical system, leaving the ship dark. Panic set in among the men on board, many of them trapped below decks. The chaplains sought to calm the men and organize an orderly evacuation of the ship. As life jackets were passed out to the men, the supply ran out. The chaplains removed their own life jackets and gave them to others. They also helped as many men as they could into lifeboats, and then linked arms and, saying prayers and singing hymns, went down with the ship.
“As I swam away from the ship, I looked back. The flares had lighted everything. The bow came up high and she slid under. The last thing I saw, the Four Chaplains were up there praying for the safety of the men. They had done everything they could. I did not see them again. They themselves did not have a chance without their life jackets.”
—Grady Clark, survivor
About 230 of the 904 men aboard the Dorchester were rescued.
Painting from the United States Coast Guard Historian's Office.
Rabbi Alexander D. Goode (Ph.D.) was born in Brooklyn, New York on May 10, 1911, the son of a rabbi. He was raised in Washington, D.C., and later studied for the rabbinate at Hebrew Union College, where he received a B.H. degree in 1937, followed by a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1940.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Rabbi Goode applied to the Army, receiving his appointment as a chaplain on July 21, 1942. Chaplain Goode went on active duty on August 9, 1942, and was selected for the Chaplains School at Harvard. In October 1942, Goode was transferred to Camp Myles Standish in Taunton, Massachusetts and reunited with Chaplains John Washington, a Catholic priest; Clark Poling, a Dutch Reformed minister; and George Fox, a Methodist minister—all of whom were Goode’s classmates at Harvard.
Stained glass window in the National Cathedral,
Washington D.C. Sculptor Eugene Daub was
inspired by this for the Four Chaplains medal.
On December 19, 1944, all four chaplains were posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross. In addition, the Four Chaplains' Medal, was approved by a unanimous act of Congress on July 14, 1960, through Public law 86-656 of the 86th Congress. The medals were presented posthumously to the next of kin of each of the Four Chaplains by Secretary of the Army Wilber M. Brucker at Ft. Myer, Virginia on January 18, 1961.
TO SEE INTERVIEW WITH SCULPTOR EUGENE DAUB AS PRESENTED ON KICKSTARTER CLICK HERE
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