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U.S. House approves Jewish chaplains memorial

(JTA) — The U.S. House of Representatives voted to authorize the construction of a memorial in Arlington National Cemetery for fallen Jewish chaplains.

The bill was approved Monday night and now moves to the Senate.

Dozens of national and locally based Jewish and veterans groups, led by the Jewish Federations and the Jewish Welfare Board Jewish Chaplains Council of the JCC Association of America, have been working for nearly three years to establish a memorial for Jewish chaplains in Arlington National Cemetery alongside those for Protestant and Catholic chaplains.

The memorial, which has been designed and paid for by private donations, must receive congressional authorization before construction can begin.

Thirteen Jewish chaplains have been killed while serving in the military.

"I can think of no better expression of our nation’s gratitude for our Jewish War Chaplains than the passage of this resolution during Jewish American Heritage Month, and a week before Memorial Day," said Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. "The 13 Jewish chaplains who will be honored stood beside our troops and lent their strength during good times and bad, on the battlefield and off. This memorial will serve as an inspiration to all to learn their stories that are such an important part of our nation’s history."

The congressional resolutions, initiated by Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) and Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) in the House, and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) in the Senate, urge the provision of space "for a memorial marker, to be paid for with private funds, to honor the memory of the Jewish chaplains who died while on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States."

The design would be subject to the approval of the secretary of the Army.

The resolution notes the absence from the memorial of, among others, Rabbi Alexander Goode, one of four chaplains who relinquished their life jackets to soldiers when the USS Dorchester was sunk by German torpedoes in 1943 and went down together in prayer.
 

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