By Lauren Feldman
The Jewish War Veterans Post 652 recently held their monthly meeting at Congregation Ohav Sholom near Wantagh. This meeting enables Jewish War veterans on Long Island to connect and discuss the pressing matter of antisemitism, which has been on the rise especially in recent years.
The Jewish War Vets were established in 1896. Post 652 was established in 1950, and includes members from many periods of recent deployment, including some surviving servicemen of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. The Post is currently based in Merrick, just 6 minutes from Wantagh, but includes members from across Long Island. The Post was combined with Post 312, which was founded in 1945. Post 652 honors the mission statement of the Jewish War Veterans organization, which is that Jewish men and women serve honorably and heroically in the military forces of the United States of America during peacetime and war. Their vision is to continue to be a leading Veterans Service Organization in the United States, supporting and advocating for all uniformed service members, veterans, and their families.
Gary Glick has been the Department of New York Commander for 10 years now; a job he says few want to do because of the challenges of combating antisemitism. “Write down what caused the problems of the Holocaust… The sad part is we could just cross out a name and put another guy’s name, and the same things are happening again. And it feels like everyone has blinders on.” Glick cited that there are groups who continue to claim that Jewish men never served the United States during periods of conflict, particularly Korea and Vietnam. When, in fact, Jews were drafted or enlisted just as other citizens had been.
Modernly, Glick says, there is still a resistance to acknowledging the services provided by Jewish men and women in the armed forces. “This is untrue, and we need to defend that it is untrue,” he says. The men and women present at this meeting are proof of the national dedication to protecting and providing for the United States. The group is non-political, and encourages Jewish vets aligned with any party to get involved. “We try to get out there and get to the head of things, but then it becomes political. We’re not political… When something happens to a Jew, we’re the minority, and we just want to help.”
Glick co-led the monthly veterans meeting with Post 652 Commander Eric Spinner. There were several topics of note that arose during the meeting.
Firstly, efforts are currently underway to develop a museum in Glen Cove featuring military history and veteran records. Mel Cohen, Commander of Post 336 – as well as Glick’s predecessor as Department of New York Commander – informed the group that a monument replica is also underway for approval. The original monument is located in Arlington Virginia. Cohen says that about 10 years prior, a group called Dignity Memorial sponsored replicas for JWV Posts on Long Island. The replica belonging to Post 652 is currently awaiting a position at the developing Glen Cove museum.
Glick also mentioned ongoing efforts to connect with Jewish vets across Long Island who may be unaware of the services and community offered by the JWV. One such example includes a plethora of veterans in the Farmingdale area, with whom Glick is attempting to get in contact. Glick was tipped off to this group of veterans in the town of Farmingdale who were not aware of the Jewish War Veterans, or Post 652. The Observer plans to follow up on future efforts of the JWV to connect with veterans throughout our coverage areas.
The meeting also prompted a discussion on several volunteer efforts to be undertaken by and on behalf of Jewish war veterans.
A prominent factor in determining a veteran’s ability to participate in his or her local Post is something many of us do not give a second thought to; mobility. For veterans who have difficulties driving, for example getting to Post meetings can be troublesome at best, and impossible at worst. While efforts have been made by Post 652 to offer digital alternatives, such as a Zoom stream, this does not always successfully accommodate members.
Therefore, one effort underway is the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Volunteer Transportation Network. Through this service, volunteers can drive veterans to and from their monthly meetings, medical appointments, services, and more. All that is required is a valid NYS driver’s license, and a little free time. To learn more about becoming a volunteer driver, contact Robert.Erdody@va.gov or call (631) 235-8220 for more information.
Another volunteer effort under discussion was the poppy drive. Many veteran groups will offer poppies or flags as a thank-you to those who donate to the Post. Discussions are underway for where and when Post 652 will be participating, particularly as Memorial Day draws closer. Consider contacting the JWV if your business is interested in helping JWV Post 652 raise funds for veterans.
Get In Contact:
The JWV are always hopeful to connect with and support Jewish veterans across Long Island. Glick reiterates that if someone doesn’t tell the JWV they’re a veteran, they can’t get help or benefits from the group. Therefore, if you are someone you know is a Jewish veteran, please consider getting in contact. You can go online to www.we-are-vets.us/jewish-war-veterans to sign up for emails, be added to their mailing list, meet their team, and find out about local upcoming events.