Jewish War Veterans lunch to honor 117th anniversary

Jewish War Veterans Friedman-Paul Post 201 will sponsor a lunch meeting on Sunday, March 17 at noon in honor of the 117th anniversary of the national veterans’ organization. The guest speaker will be James Ross, administrator of the Arizona State Veteran Home in Tucson.

Jewish War Veterans of the United States is the oldest veterans’ organization in America. It got its start on March 15, 1896, when a group of American veterans of the Civil War, faced with accusations that American Jews didn’t do their fair share during the conflict, formed the Hebrew Union Veterans Association, says Norman Ross, a member of Post 201 and a Korean War veteran.

In fact, there were seven Jewish recipients of the Medal of Honor from the Civil War. More than 10,000 young Jewish men fought for both sides: 7,000 for the North; 3,000 for the South. Jews were the largest ethnic group to serve the Confederacy.

In 1903, the original organization merged with the Hebrew Veterans of the War with Spain, resulting in the first of several name changes.

“World War I saw an influx of new Jewish members brought on by patriotic fervor. As a result, an unwieldy name was adopted: Hebrew Veterans of the Wars of the Republic,” says Ross. Posts were established across the nation. The present name, Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America, was adopted in 1929.

“But the largest recruitment,” says Ross, “took place after World War II, when America had nearly 16,000,000 soldiers, sailors and marines under arms.”

In Tucson, the Friedman-Paul Post 201 was formed in 1950. It is named for two Tucsonans: Sgt. Robert J. Friedman, U.S. Army, a graduate of Tucson High School who died in France on Nov. 17, 1944; and Radar Mate 2nd Class Irving Paul, U.S. Navy, also a graduate of Tucson High School, who died at sea on April 12, 1945, during the Battle of Okinawa.

“Under the current leadership of Post Commander Rita A. Stolzenberg, Capt. U.S. Army Nurse Reserves, the Friedman-Paul Post continues its joint mission of providing aid and comfort to the VA Hospital, homeless veterans and the Jewish community at large,” says Ross. Members include active and retired veterans of World War II, Korea, Viet Nam, the first Gulf War and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The anniversary lunch will be held at B’nai B’rith Covenant House, 4414 E. 2nd Street. For more information, contact Seymour Shapiro, junior vice commander, at 398-5360.