First Jewish Religious Service Broadcast from German Soil Under Artillery Fire
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First Jewish Religious Service Broadcast from German Soil Under Artillery Fire

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While German shells exploded 200 yards away, a group of fifty Jewish soldiers near Aachen yesterday held the first Jewish religious services to be broadcast from Nazi soil to the United States in a dramatic program presented by the American Jewish Committee over the coast to coast network of the National Broadcasting Company.

The ceremonies, held in the open air in a sector of the American First Army’s front, emphasized the ideological struggle against Hitlerism by the participation of Catholic and Protestant chaplains in what was probably the first inter-faith demonstration held on German soil since the Nazis came to power.

Capping the historic occasion was the ironic fact that the program was short-waved from a spot near the scene where the Nazis, six years ago, destroyed the only synagogue in Aachen during the pogroms which swept Germany following the assassination of Ernst von Rath in Paris by a polish Jewish youngster, Herschel Gryaszpan.

Conducting the services was Chaplain Sidney M. Lefkowitz, formerly rabbi of Congregation Beth-Hahavah in Richmond, Va. Catholic Chaplain Edward J. Waters of Rochester, N. Y., and Protestant Chaplain Bernard F. Henry of Chambersbridge, Pa. made brief talks after the services.

As Chaplain Lefkowitz led the Jewish soldiers in the chant, “Ein Keholeinu,” German artillery fire could distinctly be heard over the air in sharp punctuation. James Cassidy. NBC war correspondent who arranged the broadcast, later revealed in a trans-Atlantic telephone call to New York that the program was almost called off because of the disconcerting proximity of Nazi shells.

“We observe here not merely a religious service,” Chaplain Lefkowitz declared; “it is for more than that. It is a proclamation that the days of darkness are passing, that the bastions from which they have moved forward have been besieged and soon will be destroyed, that worship of God is again restored in this part of the world.”

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