By Sharon Wisch-Ray
I am thinking of my mom today, Rene Wisch of blessed memory. Today would have been her 94th birthday.
As most of you know, mom was plugged in to the Fort Worth Jewish community like no other. She thrived on sharing your news with the community at large. I’d like to do the same! So send your news to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you.
As part of its effort to collect memorabilia and stories of Jews who fought in World War I, Naomi Rosenfield has submitted the following Treasured Traditions item:
The only Jewish soldier from Fort Worth killed in action during World War I was a 27-year-old doughboy who had immigrated to America 10 years earlier, leaving his parents and brother behind in Russia. The soldier’s name was Pvt. Samuel Elly Raiz, and he lived with his Uncle Morris Ginsburg and Aunt Mollie Grobiscjz Ginsburg at their home at 1216 Broadway Ave.
His uncle was part of the large, extended family of Ginsburgs who operated Missouri Iron & Metal Industries, a pipe-and-supply company. At the time Sam registered for the draft — a requirement a century ago — he had not heard from his parents or brother since August 1914, when the war erupted in Europe. Therefore, when Sam was missing in action, a telegram notifying family of his death was delivered to his aunt and uncle, his closest known relatives.
Imagine being a young immigrant, becoming an American citizen, then being drafted into the Army, and training at Camp Bowie. (Yes, there really was a Camp Bowie, a World War I-era base that trained recruits from Texas and Oklahoma.) Sam was part of the 360th Infantry, 90th Division. He made the ultimate sacrifice during the bloody battle of St. Mihiel in France, perishing Sept. 19, 1918. Because his remains were never identified, his name is etched in marble alongside 483 other soldiers missing in action on that battlefield.
Pvt. Samuel Raiz’ story is one of many. As a matter of fact, the Jewish Welfare Boa
rd, created in 1917 to meet the needs of Jewish soldiers, sent 16,000 surveys to Jewish soldiers. Perhaps you have a relative who fought in World War I whom you’d like to research. Join the Fort Worth Jewish Archives as it creates displays commemorating the 100th anniversary of the First World War.
To volunteer, contact Hollace Weiner at email@example.com.