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A Jewish Chaplain in France   By: (1890-1966)

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A JEWISH CHAPLAIN IN FRANCE

[Illustration: Logo of the MacMillan Company]

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY NEW YORK · BOSTON · CHICAGO · DALLAS ATLANTA · SAN FRANCISCO

MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED LONDON · BOMBAY · CALCUTTA MELBOURNE

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA. LTD. TORONTO

[Illustration: A group of Jewish welfare workers at Le Mans, France, in March 1919. From left to right, George Rooby, Julius Halperin, Frank M. Dart, Chaplain Lee J. Levinger, Adele Winston, Charles S. Rivitz, David Rosenthal and Esther Levy.]

A Jewish Chaplain in France

BY RABBI LEE J. LEVINGER, M.A., Executive Director Young Men's Hebrew Association, New York City, formerly First Lieutenant Chaplain United States Army

WITH A FOREWORD BY CYRUS ADLER, Ph.D., President of Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Learning, Philadelphia

New York THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 1921

COPYRIGHT 1921, BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.

Set up and printed. Published October, 1921

TO A GOOD SOLDIER WHO SENT ME TO FRANCE AND BROUGHT ME BACK AGAIN MY WIFE

FOREWORD

The tendency to "forget the war" is not admirable. Such an attitude is in effect a negation of thought. The agony which shook mankind for more than four years and whose aftermath will be with us in years to come cannot be forgotten unless the conscience of mankind is dead. Rabbi Levinger's book is the narrative of a man who saw this great tragedy, took a part in it and has thought about it.

In all the wars of the United States Jews participated, increasingly as their numbers grew appreciably. They served both as officers and privates from Colonial days. But not until the World War was a Rabbi appointed a Chaplain in the United States Army or Navy for actual service with the fighting forces. President Lincoln appointed several Jewish ministers of religion as chaplains to visit the wounded in the hospitals, but the tradition of the Army up to the period of the Great War, rendered the appointment of a Rabbi as chaplain impossible. The chaplain had been a regimental officer and was always either a Protestant or a Catholic. The sect was determined by the majority of the regiment. When the United States entered the Great War, this was clearly brought out and it required an Act of Congress to render possible the appointment of chaplains of the faiths not then represented in the body of chaplains. Twenty chaplains were thus authorized of whom six were allotted to the Synagogue the remainder being distributed among the Unitarians, who were not included in the Evangelical Churches, and the other smaller Christian sects which had grown up in America.

In order to meet the requirements of the War Department and in consonance with the spirit of unity which the war engendered, it was necessary for the Jewish organizations to create a body which could sift the applications for chaplaincies and certify them to the War Department, as being proper persons and meeting the requirements of the law of being regularly ordained ministers of religion.

Judaism in America is far from being a united body. Its differences may not be such as rise to the dignity of separate sects but they are considerable in belief and even more pronounced in practice. Membership in the various Rabbinical and synagogue organizations is voluntary and each synagogue is autonomous. In the face of the awfulness of the war, these differences seemed minimized and through the coöperation of all the Rabbinical associations and synagogue organizations, a Committee was created under the general authority of the Jewish Welfare Board which examined the credentials of all Jewish candidates for chaplaincies and made recommendations to the War Department. So conscientiously did this Committee perform its duties that every Rabbi recommended as a chaplain was commissioned.

As the law exempted ministers of religion and theological students, no person could be drafted for a chaplaincy. Every clergyman who served was a volunteer. It is therefore greatly to the credit of the Jewish ministry in America that one hundred and forty men volunteered for the service... Continue reading book >>




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