The Jewish Dead of Arlington Cemetery

May 31, 2018 | Matt Lebovic
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Continuing a project begun by the late retired audio mechanic Kenneth Poch, researchers have identified 5,525 graves in Arlington National Cemetery belonging to Jews—ranging from the Confederate veteran and celebrated sculptor Moses Jacob Ezekiel (who carved a memorial on the cemetery grounds) to the astronaut Judith Resnick who died aboard the Challenger. It is also the resting place of the eccentric British soldier Orde Wingate, a Christian Zionist who trained the embryonic Haganah. Matt Lebovic writes:

[G]rave markers other than crosses were not permitted at Arlington until 1918. Even after stars of David were allowed onto the grounds following World War I, some Jews continued to be buried under crosses—including those grown accustomed to hiding their Judaism out of fear of discrimination, and some who had the decision made for them. . . .

Of the Jewish women buried at Arlington, one of the most celebrated was Rae Landy, who came to the U.S. from Lithuania with her parents. In Cleveland, she studied nursing at the Jewish Women’s Hospital, followed by a public-health stint in New York City. Landy’s stellar work attracted the attention of Hadassah founder Henrietta Szold, who sent her and another nurse to Palestine in 1913.

When Landy reached Jerusalem, sanitary and medical conditions were poor, to say the least. To help treat the destitute Jewish immigrants streaming in from Europe, she set up a settlement house in her apartment near the Old City. Nurses trained there until the outbreak of World War I, when Hadassah was forced to shut down the operation. Landy would probably be remembered only for her efforts in Jerusalem. But the public-health expert went on to a long career in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, [serving] throughout Europe and later in the Philippines. By the time of her retirement in 1944, Landy had led prestigious hospitals and earned the rank of lieutenant colonel, the second highest available. . . .

Another noteworthy grave is that of Lawrence N. Freedman:

Born into an Orthodox family in Philadelphia, Freedman took part in six campaigns in Vietnam as a Green Beret, earning a Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars. . . . Upon returning home, the flamboyant Freedman joined the CIA and nicknamed himself “Super Jew.” As a member of the elite Delta Force, he is said to have been a sniper without peer. He participated in operations during the Falklands War and Libya. . . . In 1992, Freedman became the first American killed during the U.S. military relief mission in Somalia.

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