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January 16, 1987 - Image 17

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-01-16

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Pho tos By Craig Tei

Plebe Robert Rich (in foreground, with pan) serves himself at lunch in the huge academy dining hall where more than 4,000 midshipmen are served at once, three times a day.

relax, fatherly advice and a motherly pat
on the back," says Lindauer. He recalls a
recent phone call from a midshipman who
introduced himself and asked if he could
stop by. "The kid came over, put on the dir-
tiest pair of jeans you ever saw, had a glass
of milk, slept for two hours, said 'thank
you' and asked if he could come again the
next week." Last Rosh Hashanah, the Lin-
dauers shared their holiday table with 15
Jewish midshipmen, but "we have non-
Jewish kids here too," said Lindauer. "We
pick them up at the German club and
everyone knows they can bring their
For 38 years, Annapolis' late Rabbi Mor-
ris Rosenblatt led Sunday morning ser-
vices as the chaplain. But in 1972, the
Supreme Court ruled that an institution
could not make religious services man-
datory. All of a sudden, attendance at
Jewish services dropped to almost
nothing, Lindauer recalls, so he pushed for
the establishment of Friday night services.
Fifty percent or more of the Jewish mid-
s hipmen attend them. The Lindauers were
also the driving force behind the
Academy's decision to refurbish the ,
Jewish chapel in historic Mitscher Hall.
They are the force, or presence, which
calms the anxieties of Jewish parents leav-
ing their children at the Academy for the
first time.
Sandee McMahon of Huntington, New
York, had suggested West Point to her son,

Jonathan Salkoff, as a college choice in
case he didn't get a scholarship elsewhere.
She was "floored by his suggestion of the
Naval Academy." "I knew that it existed,
but all the glamour was associated with
West Point." McMahon also worried about
Jonathan's being Jewish and thought he
might encounter some anti-Semitism.
"West Point at least had enough Jews to
warrant building a new chapel," she
pointed out. Jonathan had grown up in a
Reform home, been bar-mitzvahed, and
was once comfortable with his Jewishness.
But in the last few years, he "abandoned"
his religion, McMahon said. "This year,"
she noted, "there's been a total reversal,"
and thinks it is greatly due "to the warm,
loving influence of the Lindauers."
Jonathan, she knows has experienced no
anti-Semitism whatsoever at the Academy.
Joan Matofsky sees a similar transfor- °
mation in her son, Robert. "He's extreme-
ly patriotic," she said, but at the time he
was considering the Academy, "he had
stopped being Jewish." When she voiced
her concerns about his being in a minori-
ty group at Annapolis, he replied that "be-
ing a good person" was more important
than religion. As a favor to his mother,
Robert promised to try to go to services
or get a Jewish sponsor. With the Lin-
dauers, he's done both, and, his mother
says, "he's started identifying more with
Judaism and is very active now" in Jewish
life at the Academy. "At this point," she

adds, Robert "loves school and has never
worked so hard in his life." She was sur-
prised to learn that he runs five miles dai-
ly, above and beyond what the Academy re-
quires. Matofsky once worried that her
"very independent" son wouldn't "fit into
such structure. But he's had no problem.
It's a complete change."
Dr. Michael Rich, of San Diego, is equal-
ly pleased with his son's success. "Robert
had some down times during Plebe Sum-
mer," he said, "but that was to be ex-
pected." The Riches relied on literature put
out by a local group of Academy parents
which forewarned that there would be some
disheartening phone calls home from
plebes, and counselled what to say. Robert
managed to make it through Plebe Sum-
mer even though he had a nerve infection
which disabled one arm for almost two
months. He had a khaki sling, "a scarlet
letter to single him out at a time when
you're supposed to be melting into the
group," said his father," but he's over the
worst of it now."
Unfortunately, two of thiS year's Jewish
plebes never got past the bad times and
have left the Academy. One, a woman,
allegedly was so disappointed at not
meeting the physical qualifications for
aviator training, that she quit immediate-
ly. The other, David Rivkin, made it
through Plebe Summer but felt alienated
by the military system.
Rivkin's father, Steven, said his son


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