SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Dec. 26)
The first request of the two Jewish crewmen of the U.S.S. Pueblo, on their return to the United States from North Korean captivity, was for mezuzahs, it was learned today. Chaplain Garson Goodman conducted a special prayer of deliverance and portions of the Chanukah service for the two men and their families in the San Diego naval chapel. He noted that the men crossed the “Bridge of No Return” to freedom on the last day of Chanukah, stressing the symbolism of their liberation.
The Jewish sailors were Steven Jay Robins, 22, son of Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Robin of Silver Springs, Md., a communications technician, and Steven Paul Ellis, 23, son of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Ellis of Los Angeles, a seaman. The Jewish sailors were reported to have been fearful during their year of captivity that their Communist captors might take notice of their religion and seek to link them with Zionism or Israel but they were never asked about religion during interrogations.
Navy Chaplain Goodman said the religious fervor of the two men and their families was “very emotional and deeply moving.” They sang Chanukah songs at the chapel while the Christian members took part in Christmas devotions at other chapels. The families expressed their appreciation to Chaplain Goodman, who is stationed at the San Diego naval station, for leaving a sick bed to greet the returning sailors despite influenza and a 104 temperature.