DFW JWV Posts, Dallas’ JWVA salute vets
Photo: Courtesy JWV Post #256 and JWVA
Marc Liebman salutes the gravesites at Shearith Israel Cemetery. Members of the JWV and JWVA place flags at the graves of Jewish veterans on Memorial and Veterans Day.

By Deb Silverthorn

The Jewish War Veterans (JWV) mission affirms that Jewish men and women have served, and now serve, honorably and heroically in the military forces of the United States of America. They do so during peacetime and war, defending the rights and benefits of all service members and veterans, fighting antisemitism and supporting the state of Israel.

Members of JWV Dr. Harvey J. Bloom Post #256 of Dallas, its Jewish War Veterans Auxiliary (JWVA) and JWV Martin Hochster Post #755 of Fort Worth hold true to this mission.

“I had good experiences in the service, often with only a few Jews, but we’d have Shabbat services with a tape recording from a congregation. At Fort Sam Houston the JWV facilitated so much for us. I will never forget that kindness,” said Eddie Garcia, commander of Post #256, which gained its charter in 1943. After careers as a teacher and then entrepreneur, Garcia joined the U.S. Army for three years before being medically separated in 2016.

“Jews have proudly served in every conflict during and since the Revolutionary War. The JWV was formed to bring notice to that service, to let people know that Jews indeed are committed to our country,” said Garcia. “We provide scholarships, we shed light on antisemitism, we present as Color Guard at programs throughout the community, as Honor Guard at JWV members’ funerals presenting the flag to survivors and we are a connection between the generations.”

Phil Kabakoff, commander of Fort Worth and Tarrant County Post #755, which received its charter in the 1970s, enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and served in Korea during the Vietnam War. In service, he followed his father, Herman Kabakoff, who was in the U.S. Navy, and his uncle Bernie Freeman, in the U.S. Marines. His dedication to JWV honors his mother Sylvia Kabakoff’s years of commitment to the JWVA. His post has been in Fort Worth for 43 years; Kabakoff says it, like many around the country, is hoping for the next generation to sign on for membership.

Photos: Courtesy JWV Post 755
In April 2022, JWV Post #755’s Barry Schneider, a past-commander of National JWV, presented scholarships to Fort Worth High School ROTC cadets.

“Many of our members are in their 80s and 90s. They are veterans of World War II, Vietnam, Korea and Desert Storm,” says Kabakoff. His post regularly presents awards to local ROTC cadets, attending veterans’ events throughout the year and other activities. He notes that the Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma (TALO) Regional Convention will be held in Dallas this summer.

Julian Haber, of blessed memory, who was a past commander of Post #755,  wrote “They Were Jewish Soldiers in Peace and War,” which is given to area b’nai mitzvah and available for sale through the post. “We have to hold on to our history, respect those who have served and are serving and teach the next generations to care, to serve and to know all that’s gone on.”

Post membership is open to anyone who has served in any of the armed forces; the auxiliary (JWVA, Dallas only) is open to parents, spouses or children of those who have served. Those who have not served, but who want to participate, can join as a post patron to either group. Membership is $55 per year for the JWV and $36 for the auxiliary.

“Reaching out to those who gave so much to us, to our country, is what we do. It doesn’t take so much but we know it makes a big difference. This honors veterans, both those who are living and those who have passed,” said Jo Reingold, president of the JWVA. She joined the organization 13 years ago to honor her father, Bill Pakowsky, who  served in the U.S. Navy. Now the junior vice-president of the national JWVA, Reingold will ascend to the presidency in August 2024.

In Dallas at the Aaron Family JCC, Post #256 and its JWVA, and in Fort Worth at Congregation Ahavath Sholom, Post #755, host monthly meetings, often with a nosh and guest speaker. In Dallas, post and auxiliary members then break apart to meet regarding their own business, activities and updates.

Throughout the year, organization members visit the Dallas and Garland VA medical centers and the Sam Rayburn Memorial Veterans Center in Bonham. During the pandemic, needs were met by the posts and auxiliary by fulfilling wish lists as shared by the medical centers.

Each year the organizations work with the VA medical centers pinpointing veteran candidates to support through their “Grant A Wish” program. They’ve provided a washing machine, spinal cord injury equipment, games and activities for those at the Dallas VA as well as dinner, requested by one patient, for the staff of the oncology unit who had cared for him and, for one veteran, a dress uniform for him to be buried in.

Sandra Cantor is a past-president of the local and national JWVAs. Her father, Ely Cohen, was a soldier in World War II. She credits her livelihood as a Jewish educator, including more than 40 years as a teacher at Ann and Nate Levine Academy, to an article she’d read years before about the Judaic Studies program at Ohio State University. She married a U.S. Navy veteran, Allan Cantor, who is a JWV life member.

“The service that our veterans provide has touched my heart since I was very young and giving back, in this very connected and hands-on way, is so important to me. While we visit veterans of all faiths, I remember saying prayers, including the Shema, to a Jewish veteran who teared up. That moment, that emotion — it’s really our time to do G-d’s work and that’s why we’re here,” said Cantor.

For more information, membership, donations (general or for Poppy Drive locations) or to give a flag in disrepair for the flagging ceremony, email JWV Post #256 at post256jwv@gmail.com. For scholarship applications, due May 26, contact Post #755 at jwv755fw@gmail.com. For information about Post #256 JWVA, email jo14711@att.net.

Leave a Reply