- The Jewish War Veterans was founded March 15, 1896, in New York City as the Hebrew Union Veterans Association (HUVA) by Civil War veterans distressed by the commonly held belief that Jews avoided military service.
- The first membership badge of the Hebrew Union Veterans Association (HUVA), the organization that later became JWV
- JWV was among the sponsors of the Destroyer Escort “Uriah P. Levy” launched March 28, 1943. Levy was a Naval Officer in the War of 1812 and became the U.S. Navy’s first Jewish Commodore (comparable to a 1-Star General).
- JWV took part in the eight World War II loan campaigns organized by the Treasury Department. JWV also raised $200,000 to purchase a fighter plane nicknamed “Star of David.”
- Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt spoke at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Jewish War Veterans at New York’s Madison Square Garden in 1946.
- In 1948, President Harry S. Truman met with a JWV delegation that included Julius Klein, Harry Schaffer, and David Solomon to discuss the new State of Israel
- In June 1960, JWV Commander Bernard Abrams met with President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Afterward, he told reporters the president was instructing Attorney General Rogers to look into a new wave of “neo-Nazism” which the veterans claimed was manifest in the U.S. and in Washington.
- In 1965, Monroe Sheinberg, JWV’s national executive director, met with African American religious leaders to chart a course on civil rights.
- In October 2009, then Post 755 commander Julian Haber (of blessed memory) and vice commander Rich Morris await the return of troops to DFW from Iraq and Afganistan along with Peter Levy and his son Brandon.
- In March 1933, JWV became the first group to call for a boycott against Nazi Germany. A parade led by JWV that same month in New York City had an estimated million marchers and spectators.
- Presenting the Colors at a Kosher Chili Cook-off event: (left to right) Harry Hermann & Jerry Kasten (both z”l)
By Steve Krant
Special to the TJP
Since the earliest colonial days, American Jews have served in the military with honor and distinction. Yet, the baseless myth that Jews don’t serve persists even today. In the post-Civil War era — a war in which thousands of Jews fought and sacrificed on both sides — that antisemitic canard motivated a group of 63 Jewish veterans to form the Hebrew Union Veterans Association (HUVA) in New York City March 15, 1896 — 125 years ago.
Eventually joining forces with their Southern counterparts, along with veterans of the Spanish-American War, they became what is now known as the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America, standing tall as the nation’s oldest continuously operating veterans service organization with the motto: “A Jewish voice for Veterans; a Veteran’s voice for Jews.”
A well-crafted 20-minute documentary, “Spirit, Courage and Conviction,” offers detail and context. Produced by JWV’s National Museum of American Jewish Military History (NMAJMH), it features Medal of Honor recipient Col. Jack Jacobs and is available for online viewing at https://youtu.be/9vn7N2YjO4M.
The images on these pages highlight some of JWV’s achievements in helping to shape national policy, in calling attention to bigotry and totalitarianism, in support of the civil rights movement, in contributions to the World War effort, and much more. For example, JWV is credited with starting the first letter-writing campaign in support of the GI Bill, which enabled thousands of returning World War II veterans to attend college and make a better life for themselves and their families. In 1963, JWV was the only veterans group to march with Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington and, in 1971, was first among veteran organizations to support withdrawing our troops from Vietnam.
On the local front, JWV Posts in North Texas and throughout the region promote Americanism and strive to help veterans regardless of background by volunteering time and resources. Poppy Drives and similar activities raise money for donations of nonmedical “quality of life” furnishings and supplies to local VA facilities. Before COVID-19, JWV members and their families brought holiday gifts and a friendly smile on Christmas Day morning to hospitalized veterans.
On the larger stage, JWV continues to make its voice heard in the halls of government through annual testimony by the national commander before the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees, as well as with active involvement in the Military Coalition of major veteran service organizations. JWV has an eye to the future as well, with outreach and programs designed to attract currently serving and recently separated military members — the next generation of leadership.
Past National Commander of JWV (2019-2020), Fort Worth’s Dr. Barry Schneider, congratulates “Jewish veterans throughout our great nation, and especially members of the 11 active JWV Posts within the Department of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana & Oklahoma (TALO). Although relatively small in numbers, Jewish servicemen and women — both active duty and veterans — have much to be proud of as our 125-year-old organization pursues a second century supporting the veteran community and fighting the good fight against antisemitism and all forms of discrimination.”