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Christmas Marked by Jewish Volunteers Replacing Christians on Duty

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Christmas in the United States this year again was marked by many examples of Jews taking over assignments of Christians in a variety of institutions so that the latter could spend the holiday with their families and friends.

One of the more notable examples took place in Reno, where Rabbi Philip H. Weinberg became an unofficial acting police chief so that the real one, Elmer J. Briscoe, could spend the Yule day with his family. He explained that Rabbi Weinberg had offered “to substitute for me as a symbolic gesture, hoping the example would spur rabbis and other Jews to work on Christmas so Christians could take the day off.”

He said he had instructed Rabbi Weinberg to use the direct line between police headquarters and his home to call him if any emergency developed “but the desk officer would do that anyway.” Rabbi Weinberg, spiritual leader of Temple Emanuel, and civilian chaplain at the Stead Air Force Base and the Veterans Administration Hospital, spent the morning at police headquarters, went home for lunch and then returned to the police office. He said he wished he could have taken advantage of his temporary authority to let all Christian police take the day off.

In Hartford, Connecticut, 80 members of two Jewish congregations, took over routine menial chores at five hospitals so that Christian employees could have the day off, Samuel Warren, project co-chairman, said the Jewish substitute workers were enrolled at Beth El and Beth Israel Synagogues.

St. Francis Hospital received the largest group of the Jewish volunteers and put them to work feeding patients, pushing meal carts and manning telephone desks in the wards. Other hospitals in the effort were Hartford Hospital, Mount Sinai, and two Veterans Administration hospitals.

At Fort Hood, Texas, Jewish servicemen took over duties of Christian fellow-soldiers so that the Christian troops could attend Yule religious services. Similar arrangements in reverse were set up during the High Holy Days earlier this year so that the Jewish personnel could be relieved of duty on those days.

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