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Jewish Cadets at West Point

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Twenty-two Jewish men and women are entering the United States Military Academy at West Point as members of the Class of 1990. This is the largest number of Jewish cadets to enter a single class since World War II.

At that time, from 1940 to 1945, there was an average of 100 Jewish cadets of a total number of 2,200 cadets each year. At present, there are 4,500 cadets. Of this total, there are 58 Jews, including the 22 of the Class of 1990, at West Point. This is also the highest number in decades.

A special welcoming ceremony for the new Jewish cadets was held last month at the West Point Jewish Chapel. Well-wishers, community members and representatives of the Jewish War Veterans were in attendance. Each new Jewish cadet was presented with an inscribed edition of the Siddur for Jewish Personnel in the Armed Forces.

The Class of 1990’s Jewish members consists of 18 men and four women. The majority, 13, are from New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Four are from California, four from the South and one is from the Midwest.

“The Jewish Chapel greatly enhances the lives of the Jewish cadets and community at West Point,” said Herbert Ames, president of the West Point Jewish Chapel Fund.

He noted, “There is normally a loss of roughly 20 to 30 percent of all cadets during their first year. This past year, not a single Jewish cadet departed. Parents tell us repeatedly, the Chapel helps their children, giving them the strength and courage to complete the difficult first year.”

One of the original intentions of the Chapel, Ames said, “was to provide a religious home that serves to welcome members of the Jewish faith to West Point. The Chapel is cited as a significant factor for the growing number of Jewish cadets at West Point.”

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