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Jewish War Veterans group to mark 125th anniversary: ‘Country’s freedoms worth fighting for’

Richard Rosenzweig displays his Jewish War Veterans of the USA jacket and hat outside his Deerfield Beach home.

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By SERGIO CARMONA | South Florida Sun Sentinel | Published: March 5, 2021

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Tribune News Service) — With the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America celebrating its 125th anniversary on March 15, South Florida members of the organization explained what serving in the military has meant to them.

JWV of the USA started on March 15, 1896 for the purposes of fighting anti-Semitism while proving that Jews are a component in the U.S. defense and the maintenance of American security, and that they have made contributions and differences in the country’s growth.

Alan Paley, the organization’s national vice commander, lives in Coral Springs. Paley, 73, is also involved in the organization’s Post 606 in Coral Springs. He will be one of the speakers during a virtual anniversary ceremony organized by the organization’s Post 1 in New York at 2 p.m. on March 15.

Paley said he plans to highlight the organization’s history, how it came about and why it was formed during his speech. He also plans to talk about the things the organization is doing today. He said there are three things the organization primarily dedicates itself to: service and care for the veteran community, both Jewish and non-Jewish; continued U.S. support for Israel; and support of the U.S. military.

Paley said he has a family connection to the organization.

“First of all, my father was a member of the Jewish War Veterans, and he was a commander of the post in New Jersey where we lived,” he said. “He was very active in the Jewish War Veterans and when I originally got out of the service, I joined the same post that he served as commander, and I eventually became the commander of that post. I think I’m one of the few people in the JWV who succeeded their father in the the same post as commander.”

Paley enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1966 and served as a weapons specialist on aircraft at bases in West Germany, Italy and Libya. He joined New Jersey JWV Post 651 in 1968 as an in-service member. Following his honorable discharge in 1970. he became active in JWV and rose through the ranks of his post, becoming one of its youngest post commanders in JWV. After relocating to Florida, he served as council commander, department commander, national budget chairman and national adjutant.

When asked what kind of Jewish pride he feels in serving in the U.S. military, Paley responded, “I don’t think it has anything to do with my Jewish heritage; I just think that as an American citizen, I’m proud of our country, and I wanted to do my part to serve.”

“If that meant to serve in the military and I had the ability to do it, I was going to do it, because I think the freedoms we have in this country are worth fighting for,” he continued. “I didn’t think twice about serving in the military.”

Another local member of the organization is Richard Rosenzweig of Deerfield Beach. Rosenzweig, 82, is a past state commander and past commander for Post 265 in Deerfield Beach. He has been a member of the organization for more than 50 years and served in the U.S. Naval Reserve in the 1950s and ‘60s.

“The United States of America means everything to me and the Jewish people,” Rosenzweig said. “I have a strong feeling for giving back to the country as much as I can for what they’ve done for me and my people.”

Rosenzweig said Jewish people have served the nation since before the Revolution and continued to serve through every war the country has been involved in. He feels that’s an important part of the anniversary celebration.

Rosenzweig offers his advice for young Jews serving in the military.

“The only advice is to get a good education, and make sure you’re aware of the surroundings you’re in and of the times you’re living in, because anti-Semitism is here,” he said. “It comes and goes, and it’s back in this country at this moment with some of the things you’re seeing in society and with attacks on not only Jews, but also on people of color and Asians. This is something that is detrimental to our country.”

Michael Corbett, commander of the organization’s Post 440 in Boynton Beach, said, “The most important thing [about JWV] is that it combines my upbringing as a youngster with my military service, where I had no religious connection.”

“Finding other Jews who have served America in the military has been important to me,” Corbett, 74, continued about the organization’s meaning for him.

Corbett, who lives in Boynton Beach, is a Marine Corps combat veteran of the Vietnam War and a past Department of Florida commander of JWV. He explained his pride in having served in the military as a Jewish man.

“I was raised in New York, and I head from a lot of people, including neighbors and friends, who had relatives serving in World War II and Korea that were Jewish, and I always had the feeling that those folks who went before me were setting some kind of example for me,” he continued. “I feel that I set a good example for the next generation that came along.”

Visit jwv.org for more information on the organization, including upcoming virtual anniversary celebrations.

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Alan Paley of Coral Springs is the national vice commander of Jewish War Veterans of the USA. Other South Florida Jewish veterans are members of the JWV organization.
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