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August 10, 1990 - Image 24

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-08-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Men like Herman Lash, handsome and
refined, who was born in Detroit and at-
tended Northern High School. He joined
the service on Sept. 6, 1943, and died in
Luxembourg.
The photos hang on the walls in the
shrine and rest in a large book, a page of
which is turned every day so the names
and faces will be remembered, if just for 24
hours each year.
JWV Commander Katz sees a picture of
his pal, Abraham Kadish. "There wasn't
anything he wouldn't do for you," he says.
Bernard Gross turns to a photograph of
his friend and slain soldier Morton Gott-
lieb, "the class leader, one of the guys
everybody looked to,"and
another of Joseph Bale, a
sports star he watched play
basketball.
"I went to school with a
lot of these guys," Mr. Gross
says. "I always thought
they just went on, got jobs,
married.
"Then you see them here.
God, your heart drops."

"And we can always go to the State of
Michigan Veterans and say, 'We need help.'
We work together?'
Mr. Schwartz, chief of staff for the
Michigan JWV, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y.
He was drafted in 1942, working as an
airplane mechanic and crew chief on the
B-17 bomber.
When his superiors discovered he held an
accounting degree, Mr. Schwartz was
shipped off to Detroit, where he headed a
staff arranging for payments of govern-
ment contracts. He met his future wife at
a cafe and decided to stay in the city.
Mr. Schwartz has been active in the JWV
since he left the service in. 1946. He has

F

4 ly Katz, who keeps

,

an American flag on
his desk at the JWV
office, was born in Wiscon-
sin and came to Michigan in
1922 with his parents. He
served in the National
Guard and in September
1940, was assigned to the
Aleutian Islands and the
Soviet Union.
Mr. Katz was in the ser-
vice for more than five
years. He remembers when
Japanese submarines
chased the ship on which he
worked. Once, his ship was
attacked by the enemy air
force.
"We fired at them," he
says. "They never did come back."
Affiliated with Bloch-Rose Post, Mr. Katz
has been involved with the JWV since he
left active duty.
As head of the Michigan JWV, Mr. Katz
speaks with pride of the organization's
focus: helping veterans of every race and
religion.
"There's no discrimination," he says. "We
work with everybody."
Jack Schwartz, who served in the Air
Force during World War II, also feels
strongly about the JWV's work with all
veterans.
"The most important thing we've done is
to form a liaison with other vets in the
state," Mr. Schwartz says. "Just recently the
state commander of the American Legion
in Michigan — which has 80,000 vets —
came to one of our events, just a small
Jewish convention.

24

FRIDAY, AUGUST 10, 1990

held every position with the organization,
helped buy the building the JWV calls
home and was named Michigan veteran of
the year for 1989. He's also president of the
Joint Memorial Day Association, which
secures flags for graves of all veterans
buried in Oakland and Wayne County.
The idea for the flag holders was Mr.
Schwartz's. He remembers years ago stand-
ing in a cemetery during a storm. He notic-
ed bronze plaques on the tombstones of
WWI veterans and thought, "Wouldn't it
be great if we had one of those for every
vet?"
Now, on a rainy summer day at
Machpelah Cemetery, numerous flags, af-
fixed to bronze-colored holders bearing the
JWV logo, wave slowly, quietly in the wind.

Michael Bennett: "If you're living in a free
country, you have obligations."

Machpelah is one of eight local
cemeteries where Jewish vets are buried.
The JWV has decorated the graves of
Jewish soldiers at all eight.
The graves, many for men who died in
their early 20s, often bear flowers and a
few last, tender words: "Everybody who
knew him loved him,"reads one tombstone;
"Dear son and brother," says another.
A few graves show nothing more than
the name, date of birth and death. The
JWV flag is the only testimony that the
men are still remembered.
Two days each May, Jewish war veterans
sell plastic poppies throughout the
metropolitan area, with funds raised go-
ing to several projects in-
cluding the flag holders.
Ely Katz starts selling
poppies at 6 a.m. Thursday
and doesn't stop until just
before sundown Friday. "I
do it because it has to be
done and because it's a good
cause," he says. He regular-
ly collects between $1,800
and $2,200.
The JWV has used some
of the money earned from
selling poppies to decorate
the graves of 1,500 men, Mr.
Katz says. "And we're still
dying off every day now."
In addition to the flags on
their graves, the dead men
are commemorated through
the use of their names. It's
almost overwhelming, this
profusion of names. Rooms
in the JWV building are
named for soldiers; the
shrine bears the name of
Raymond Zussman, a World
War II Congressional Medal
of Honor winner. Lodge
names recall slain men, and
members are quick to tell
the history of their lodge
name.
"I'm a member of Silverman Detroit
Lodge #135," Jack Schwartz announces.
"It was named in honor of Eddie Silver-
man. He was killed in World War II, one
of the first to die. He's buried at
Machpelah."
Bernard Gross belongs to Charles
Shapiro Post #510. "He died in a bombing
run in Germany," he says of Mr. Shapiro.
"His body was never found."
"We've had so many of our fellows killed
in all the wars," Mr. Katz says. "We're
never going to neglect our comrades. We
take care of them when they're dead and
when they're alive, and we're proud of
that."

S

ince its establishment, the JWV has
been active in numerous political
activities. In 1933, it became the

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