Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America

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Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America
Jewish War Veterans logo.jpg
Abbreviation JWV
Formation 1896
Headquarters 1811 R Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
Less than 20,000
National Commander
Jerry Blum

The Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America (also referred to as the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A., the Jewish War Veterans, or the JWV) is an American Jewish veterans' organization, and the oldest veterans group in the United States.[citation needed] It has an estimated 37,000 members.[1]

History and purpose[edit]

The Jewish War Veterans was established in 1896.[1] The group holds a Congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code.[2][3]

In the preamble to its National Constitution the purpose of the JWV is stated:

To maintain true allegiance to the United States of America; to foster and perpetuate true Americanism; to combat whatever tends to impair the efficiency and permanency of our free institutions; to uphold the fair name of the Jew and fight his or her battles wherever unjustly assailed; to encourage the doctrine of universal liberty, equal rights, and full justice to all men and women; to combat the powers of bigotry and darkness wherever originating and whatever their target; to preserve the spirit of comradeship by mutual helpfulness to comrades and their families; to cooperate with and support existing educational institutions and establish educational institutions, and to foster the education of ex-servicemen and ex-servicewomen, and our members in the ideals and principles of Americanism; to instill love of country and flag, and to promote sound minds and bodies in our members and our youth; to preserve the memories and records of patriotic service performed by the men and women of our faith; to honor their memory and shield from neglect the graves of our heroic dead.[4]

The JWV is a member of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations[5] and Jewish Council for Public Affairs.[6]


National Museum of American Jewish Military History
National Museum of American Jewish Military History.JPG
Established September 2, 1958
Location 1811 R Street NW
Washington DC 20009-1603
President Joseph Zoldan, PNC
Public transit access Dupont Circle, Q Street Exit, Washington Metro Red Line

The JWV is organized into, in descending order of rank, a National Commander, a National Executive Committee, departments, district or county councils, and posts. There are also subsidiary organizations, including the Ladies Auxiliary, posts or other echelons created outside the United States, and any other subsidiary organizations established by a two-thirds vote of the National Executive Committee.[7]

The National Convention is the annual assembly of the JWV, in which "supreme power" is vested in.[7] The National Convention usually takes place over a week in a major U.S. city determined by the National Executive Committee.[7] The 117th Annual National Convention in 2012, for example, was held August 5–12 in Norfolk, Virginia. Membership at National Conventions is restricted to voting members of the National Executive Committee who shall vote at the same time with their posts and delegates.[7] Each post may send up to one delegate and one alternate for each ten members.[7]

The leader of JWV, the National Commander, is elected at each National Convention, serving a term beginning with the adjournment of the National Convention and ending with the adjournment of the next National Convention. If a vacancy occurs in the office of National Commander, it is filled by election by the National Executive Committee, and the chairman of the National Executive Committee acts as National Commander until such election, to be held at the next National Executive Committee meeting or within 60 days, whichever occurs first. No person is allowed to succeed himself or herself to the office of National Commander, except when the U.S. is at war.[7]

Additionally, in any department consisting of 10 or more posts, no two members of the same post may serve at the same time as an elected National Executive committeeman. National Executive Committeemen serve one-year terms commencing with the adjournment.[7]


Membership eligibility is established in the JWV's National Constitution, which lists the forms of membership as active, associate, honorary, in-service, posthumous, life, and distinguished life, and provides that "No person who promotes, or is a member of any organization or group which believes in, or advocates, bigotry or the overthrow of the United States government by force of arms or subversion" shall be eligible for membership.[8]

Active membership may be granted to "any person of the Jewish faith of good character" who is a U.S. citizen and was an active duty member of the U.S. military (including the National Guard and Reserves) in or during any war, campaign, or conflict. The National Constitution also requires that members to have not been discharged under any conditions other than honorable.[8]

Associate membership may be conferred on any Jew and U.S. citizen who does not qualify for active membership but who did either serve in wartime in a military allied to the United States and have been honorably discharged, or served in the U.S. military but not in wartime. The Constitution establishes that associate members are entitled to all the rights and privileges of active members except the right to act as a delegate of any echelon.[8]

Life members are equivalent to active members but have no obligation to pay dues. Distinguished life veterans are those who are otherwise eligible to active or associate membership and are certified by the National Executive Director as a "service-connected paraplegic, a double amputee, or is suffering from a service connected total blindness." Like life members, distinguished life veterans are equivalent to active or associate members but have no obligation to pay dues.[8]

Posthumous membership may be granted with the written consent of the next of kin of a Jewish member of the armed forces, of the Jewish faith who died while in the service. In-service membership may be granted to any Jew and American citizen of good character serving in active duty in the U.S. military. In-service members are exempt from dues.[8]

Honorary membership may be conferred upon those ineligible for active membership who have "performed distinguished or faithful service for the United States of America, or for this Organization," and may be conferred only by the National Convention, "after investigation and report received from a Committee designated by the National Executive Committee."[8]


The Jewish War Veterans divides its activities into four areas: patriotic, Jewish, service, and affinity.


The Jewish War Veterans engage in advocacy to preserve religious freedom and separation of church and state as it relates to the U.S. military.[9] Among other activities, the group has criticized Evangelical proselytizing at the United States Air Force Academy[10] and has criticized the presence of crosses on war memorials and military bases. The Jewish War Veterans filed lawsuits seeking the removal of the Mount Soledad cross[11] as well as a large cross at Camp H. M. Smith,[12] and supported a federal court decision to remove a cross on federal lands at an armed forces memorial at Mojave National Preserve.[13]

The JWV also has programs supporting the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.[14]

Each year the JWV holds a memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery commemorating Orde Wingate, a major general in the British Army and Zionist.[15] The JWV also holds Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies,[16] as well as Vietnam Veterans Memorial[17] and Korean War Veterans Memorial programs,[18] as well as programs for Vietnam veterans.[19]

The JWV also actively supports women in the military.[20]


The JWV manages the National Museum of American Jewish Military History in Washington, D.C., close to its headquarters.[21]

The organization sponsors, in cooperation with the Department of Defense, a Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust observance on military installations during the week coinciding with Yom HaShoah.[22]

The JWV administers a JWV National Reward Fund, which offers rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who have perpetrated antisemitic and other hate crimes[23] and presents about 30 engraved Kiddush cups to Jewish graduates of the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, and U.S. Air Force Academy each year.[24]

Additionally, the JWV runs the Lend a Hand program for the Jewish homeless and the poor, particularly needy veterans.[25]


The JWV gives different awards to its members for excellence and service, including awards give to different departments, councils, or posts, as well as any echelon or to individuals.[26]

The group runs a "Support Our Soldiers" (SOS), which sends care packages of toiletries and kosher food, and Jewish holiday items to Jewish soldiers serving overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere.[27]

The JWV also runs anti-substance abuse programs,[28] a disaster relief fundraising and volunteer program,[29] and a National Stamp Distribution Program for "hospitalized veterans, shut-ins, and school-age children."[30]

JWV members also volunteer at VA hospitals[31] and as National Service Officers, which help veterans, regardless of religion, get the benefits they deserve and navigate the complex Department of Veterans Affairs policies.


The JWV offers group insurance plans for its members,[32] as well as discount and promotion plans in cooperation with businesses including USAA [33] and Mercer.

Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America Foundation[edit]

The Jewish War Veterans of the USA Foundation (JWVF) [34] was created in 2010 as a way to directly give back to the veteran community, to support American active duty military personnel, and those who were physically and mentally wounded as a result of their service. However, its ideals and standards align with the Jewish War Veterans of the USA.

JWVF focuses on helping veterans or active duty personnel go back to school after their service through the National Achievement Program [35] Over $5,000 in grants are awarded annually to applicants. The only requirement is proof of service and an honorable discharge. The Foundation also offers a grant program for high school seniors who are direct descendants of members of the Jewish War Veterans. Four National Youth Achievement Program [36] grants are awarded yearly at JWV’s Annual National Convention.

In February, 2015, the JWVF held a gala to honor Jewish, and all, Medal of Honor recipients, and over $60,000 was raised to help support the veteran community. More than fifty seats were donated by generous benefactors so that active duty military personnel and their guests could attend in their stead. Also in attendance were members of the Military Coalition, including representatives from the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Air Force Sergeants Association, Marine Corps Reserve Association, National Guard Association of the United States, and Vietnam Veterans of America. Following dinner, Medal of Honor recipients Colonel Jack Jacobs, an NBC News military analyst, and Lieutenant General Robert Foley, the Director of Army Emergency Relief, each offered entertaining remarks during the keynote address.

The Foundation plans to host another celebration on February 13, 2016.[37] Many Jewish War Veterans members were liberators of Nazi concentration camps. As Jews who freed the remainder of the European Jewish population from the Nazis, many connected with Holocaust survivors on a much deeper level. They spoke Yiddish or German to them, they led Jewish services in the centers of the camps, and they offered a sense of comfort and kindness the Jews had not seen for many years. The Jewish War Veterans of the USA Foundation seeks to honor them, and all liberators, before this great generation is no more.


  1. ^ a b "Associations and Societies." The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2007. New York: World Almanac Education Group, 2007, p. 397.
  2. ^ "Article I (Name)." Jewish War Veterans of the United States National Constitution."
  3. ^ "Title 36 (Patriotic and National Observances, Ceremonies, and Organizations). Subtitle II (Patriotic and National Organizations), Part B (Organizations), Chapter 1101 (Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America, Incorporated)." Title 36 of the United States Code.
  4. ^ "Preamble." Jewish War Veterans of the United States National Constitution."
  5. ^ "Member Organizations." Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
  6. ^ "JCPA Member Agencies." Jewish Council for Public Affairs.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "Article III (Organization)." Jewish War Veterans of the United States National Constitution.
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Article IV (Membership)." Jewish War Veterans of the United States National Constitution."
  9. ^ "Religious Freedom." Jewish War Veterans.
  10. ^ See "JWV Condemns Revised Interim Guidelines on Exercise of Religion in the Air Force"; "JWV Condemns Anti-Semitism and Urges Training in Cultural Diversity at Military Academies"; the Letter of JWV National Commander Louis Abramson to Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa, Jr., Superintendent, U.S. Air Force Academy; Harrison, Donald H. "Beirut 1983: An Indelible Memory" San Diego Jewish Times; and "It's the Constitution - Sir: Remarks by MeLinda Morton at the 110th JWV Annual Convention."
  11. ^ See Jewish War Veterans v. Rumsfeld (complaint), United States District Court for the Southern District of California; "Federal Answer to Trunk and Paulson's First Amended Complaint"; "JWV Condemns Efforts to Protect Mt. Soledad Cross"; "JWV Litigates Mt. Soledad Memorial"; "JWV Files Complaint to Remove Mt. Soledad Cross from Federally-owned Property"; "ACLU Represents Jewish War Veterans and San Diego Residents in Effort to Relocate Mt. Soledad Memorial," American Civil Liberties Union.
  12. ^ See Jewish War Veterans v. United States (complaint). United States District Court for the District of Columbia; and court decision.
  13. ^ "JWV Applauds Decision to Bar Mojave Cross from Public Lands." Jewish War Veterans.
  14. ^ "Boy Scouts." Jewish War Veterans.
  15. ^ "Orde Wingate." Jewish War Veterans.
  16. ^ "Memorial Day and Veterans Day." Jewish War Veterans.
  17. ^ "JWV National Vietnam Veterans Memorial Projects." Jewish War Veterans.
  18. ^ "Korean War Veterans." Jewish War Veterans.
  19. ^ "We Care About Vietnam Vets." Jewish War Veterans.
  20. ^ "Women in the Military." Jewish War Veterans.
  21. ^ "National Museum of American Jewish Military History."
  22. ^ "Days of Remembrance in the Military," Jewish War Veterans.
  23. ^ "JWV National Reward Fund," Jewish War Veterans.
  24. ^ "Service Academies (Kiddush Cups)." Jewish War Veterans.
  25. ^ "Homelessness and Jewish Poor." Jewish War Veterans.
  26. ^ "National Awards." Jewish War Veterans.
  27. ^ "SOS Program." Jewish War Veterans.
  28. ^ "Drugs and Alcohol Abuse." Jewish War Veterans.
  29. ^ "National Disaster Relief." Jewish War Veterans.
  30. ^ "Stamp Distribution." Jewish War Veterans.
  31. ^ "Veterans Affairs Volunteer Services." Jewish War Veterans.
  32. ^ "Insurance." Jewish War Veterans.
  33. ^ "[1]." Jewish War Veterans.
  34. ^ "[2]." Jewish War Veterans Foundation.
  35. ^ "[3]." Jewish War Veterans Foundation.
  36. ^ "[4]." Jewish War Veterans Foundation.
  37. ^ "[5]." Jewish War Veterans Foundation.

External links[edit]