Friday, November 27, 2015

Jewish veterans of honor: Horrors of WWII spurred decades of Jewish communal service

Next up in our series profiling soldiers named on JNF's Wall of Honor at Ammunition Hill, Judy Levin remembers her dad, who left a lasting mark on the Jewish community of Columbus, Ohio, and beyond. 

My father's name is Ben M. Mandelkorn. He was born in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1914 to Russian immigrant parents. He worked his way through Rutgers University and the University of North Carolina Graduate School of Social Work.

Upon completing his education, my father enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II, attaining the rank of captain. He attended the Army Officer Candidate School and commanded a mobile military hospital, a forerunner of the MASH units of today. He was stationed in North Africa, Marseille, and Germany. After the Battle of the Bulge, he went with the generals to liberate the concentration camps. It was then that he decided to devote his life to his fellow Jews.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

U.S. teen finds new purpose 6,000 miles from home: 'I plan to make aliyah one day'

Noelle Chin-Vance says her six weeks studying in Israel changed her. "I am no longer afraid to walk into the world
and be myself," she says.  

Noelle Chin-Vance reflects below on the life-changing experience that was her time at Alexander Muss High School in Israel. Read on to find out how this American teen connected to her roots during her six weeks at the study-abroad program for high-schoolers. .

At a Save A Child's Heart Event. 
Every life is filled with unique events and experiences that shape each individual. Those who are lucky can identify a defining experience that had the most impact. I count myself among the lucky ones. Though I literally started life in a box in Dianbai, China, way back in 1998, there is at least one event that defined me even more. 

There were certainly a lot of important moments along the way, like when I was adopted in May of 2000, at the age of 2, by my loving parents. I met many influential people throughout my educational adventures at Assurant Satellite Learning Center, Arvida Middle School, and finally at Terra Environmental Research Institute. I had many formative experiences during my summers at Camp Ramah Darom in Clayton, Georgia. All of these experiences helped make me who I am today. 

But one life-changing experience stands out above all the rest. It began when I stepped onto a plane to Israel to join the Alexander Muss High School in Israel program.

Friday, November 20, 2015

'You have to dream big': Meet Myron Stayman, a man on a (mega) mission

Myron Stayman.jpg
Myron Stayman
Myron D. Stayman is many things. He is a husband, father, and grandfather. He is a top wealth management professional with Merrill Lynch. He is also a Jewish communal lay leader involved in the Dade and Broward County Jewish federations in Florida, as well as his synagogue and Jewish National Fund. 

But mostly, he is a man on a mission.

"Who am I? I am a Jew. The Jewish people will survive without me. 
But maybe they will survive better if I am a part of them. That is who I am. That is tikkun olam," Stayman says during a recent interview in a Jerusalem coffee shop.

With passion and poignancy, Stayman recalls the first time he witnessed JNF's work. It was on a solidarity mission to southern Israel during the 2008-2009 Gaza war, also known as Operation Cast Lead. He says he saw then -- and continues to believe -- that the work JNF does in Israel is "important, vital, and necessary."

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Jewish veterans of honor: From WWII army medic to trial attorney, she always had a sense of humor

Dinah M. Selvin worked as an army 
medic during WWII. 
This story in our series profiling soldiers named on JNF's Wall of Honor at Ammunition Hill recalls a woman who dedicated her life to public service. 

Dinah M. Selvin wore many hats during her 90 years, among them first lieutenant in the U.S. Army, physical therapist, public defender, and supporter of Jewish National Fund. 

Her executor, Norman Friedman, who worked with Dinah and was her close personal friend for 40 years, said Dinah should be remembered for a lifetime of public service. 

Born in 1920, Dinah was raised in Springfield, Mass., by parents Ira and Ida, who immigrated from Russia and believed strongly in education. Dinah graduated from Smith College. Dinah’s late sister, Dr. Beatrice L. Selvin, was an anesthesiologist and University of Maryland medical school professor.

During her army service, Dinah went overseas to England and served in a medical clinic there, helping wounded soldiers. After the war, she returned to the U.S., where she worked as a physical therapist. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Jewish veterans of honor: Bronze Star WWII flyer hatched creative scheme to sell war bonds

Charles Blumenfeld (left) poses with a bomb labeled Harry Bunderoff, 
the name of a cousin who purchased a war bond. 
We continue our series profiling the soldiers named on JNF's Wall of Honor at Ammunition Hill with Charles Blumenfeld. Plaques on the wall pay tribute to Jewish military veterans worldwide who have served their countries.

Before the U.S. entered World War II, Charles "Red" Blumenfeld heard rumors of the horrors Jews were facing in Europe. This spurred the American to enlist in the Canadian Royal Air Force, and he graduated flight school with honors. Once the U.S. entered the war, Blumenfeld flew for the U.S. Air Force, 42 missions, returning home with his entire crew and going on to win military honors including the Bronze Star.  

"Dad was one of many true patriots, and a hero," says his son Alan Blumenfeld, shown in the photo below dedicating a plaque at Ammunition Hill in his father's memory in 2011.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Jewish veterans of honor: West Point, WWII and a desk at the Pentagon

Irving Schoenberg in 1960 at his desk in the Pentagon. He served as executive assistant to undersecretary of the Air Force, after which he was awarded the Legion of Merit.

Next up in our series profiling the soldiers named on JNF's Wall of Honor at Ammunition Hill is a proud military veteran and Jewish National Fund donor who just turned 90. 

Irving Schoenberg grew up in St. Joseph, Missouri, born into a family with a strong love for the Jewish people and Israel. He had an interest in going to the military throughout high school, even participating in a cadet program during his formative years. He graduated Central High School in 1943, in the middle of World War II, so he knew he was going straight to the army ("everyone old enough to walk was going to the military," he says). 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Jewish veterans of honor: 'Regular guy from the Bronx' whose unit liberated a concentration camp

Lester Mintz, in his U.S. Army days.
Next up in our series on soldiers honored at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, Estelle Mintz remembers her husband Lester. JNF's Wall of Honor pays tribute to the courage and heroism of Jewish soldiers worldwide who have fought in defense of their countries in numbers disproportionately high considering their representation in the general population.

By Estelle Mintz

Lester was a sweet, friendly, funny, and sometimes silly and corny, regular guy from the Bronx. He was drafted into the army when he was only 18 years old and it was the first time he had ever traveled. That army time was the experience of his lifetime. He was eternally fascinated with everything World War II-related.

His unit (the 104th Infantry Division, or Timberwolves) liberated the Nordhausen concentration camp in Germany on April 12, 1945. He almost never spoke of it.