web analytics
March 3, 2015 / 12 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


A Jewish American Veteran


Yankovitch-081712-Army

They are known as the Greatest Generation, and for good reason. As children of the Depression, they learned to make do with little, and lacked, most significantly, a sense of entitlement. As they came of age, they were called upon to serve and defend their country, and they did so magnificently, many with their very lives. They then went on to raise families and build the country into the superpower it has become – all with little noise and fanfare; continuing, through it all, to quietly do their duty.

For an example, par excellence, of this Greatest Generation, meet Harry Rosenthal.

Mr. Rosenthal served for three years in the U.S. military during World War Two as a member of the 100 Signal Company, where he repaired radios for the military. After the war, he married and settled in Brooklyn, where he raised his son, while playing an integral role in building up The Jewish Press, both as its director of advertising, as well as by bringing in many new printing jobs, essential to the paper’s financial viability. But what strikes one most upon speaking with him and his wife Rivi (long-time political cartoonist for The Jewish Press) is their humility. Refreshing in today’s age of self-promotion, there is a lot to learn from Mr. Rosenthal’s self-deprecating smile and shrug, and the strong conviction he gives over, that, far from doing anything great, he was merely doing his duty.

But, then again, having that sense of duty is the beginning of greatness.

Ita Yankovitch: How did your serving in the military during WWII come about?

Harry: Unlike many others at the time, who were drafted, I actually enlisted in the army. There was a radio repair course I was interested in taking, and in order to register for it, one had to enlist. In the end, it was actually a blessing in disguise because due to this course, I learned a specialized skill which spared me from being on enemy lines or from being drafted to G-d knows what location. I served from 1942-1945.

Can you tell us about a little about your background?

I was born in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to Russian parents. I attended Torah Voddath high school and then Brooklyn College. Let me tell you, it was a different world then. We were poor, of course, but it was the Depression, and everyone was poor. My father bought a house on Driggs Avenue in Williamsburg, but after a while he couldn’t afford the mortgage so he sold it and we moved into an apartment. Not only did I not have my own room; I didn’t even have my own bed! I shared one with my brother. Still, poverty didn’t stop my mother from helping out needy immigrant families. She did this so modestly that I didn’t even find out about it until her funeral, when I saw some unfamiliar faces crying, and I learned how she’d been helping them.

I sang in a boys’ choir, performing in shuls and at weddings. We got paid for the wedding performances – ten whole dollars! Actually, that was a nice amount of money in those days. Seymour Silbermintz, one of my fellow choir members, later became a name in his own right, going on to direct his own choir. Many years later, he even had my granddaughter in one of his elementary-school choirs.

What was your parents’ reaction to your enlistment?

My mother passed away before the war. My father was not too happy about it.

How did the neighborhood react to you joining the army?

People didn’t have strong opinions on the matter. Citizens today don’t respect veterans like they used to. I recall feeling, while serving, that society appreciated my duty. They didn’t let soldiers pay for anything in those days. I went to a baseball game and a Broadway show for free and I remember being charged $1 for eating at a fancy restaurant. Today there is a shift in attitude.

What was the overall Jewish reaction to you joining the war?

Many had ways to avoid being drafted. I remember one guy from yeshiva who was puzzled as to why I enlisted and asked why I don’t sit and learn to avoid serving. But I could never do that. I don’t harbor any ill feelings towards those that did and I don’t judge them, but I could never do that.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “A Jewish American Veteran”

  1. I am a Jewish Funeral Director whose family members served in the US Civil War and WWII. I make sure that veterans have full military honors which are provided free by the government. The honors are a volley of rifles, a bugler and presentation of flag. This greatest generation is leaving us at an incredible rate. Their memories are our treasure.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses a joint session of the US Congress on March 3, 2015.
‘Alliance Between Israel & US Must Always Remain Above Politics’
Latest Indepth Stories
Red Line Obama

UN inspectors were flabbergasted when Iran allowed them full unfettered access to All nuclear sites

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressing Congress.

Obama’s real problem is that he knows Netanyahu has more credibility on the Iran issue than he does.

Silwan, in the eastern part of Jerusalem, founded by Yemenite Jews in 1881

Kristof’s op-ed “The Human Stain” was flawed and wrong; more than anti-Israel, it was anti-Semitic.

Hur and Aharon holding up Moshe's hands as Joshua battled Amalek.

“Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey after you left Egypt-how undeterred by fear of G-d”

Stalin’s plan for the Soviet’s “final solution of the Jewish question” was totally assimilating them

Many Jews oppose the speech fearing it will further erode relations between Israel & US. I disagree.

The University of Georgia Student Government Association called for more investment in Israel.

Without an alliance comparable to ISIS, Al Qaida & Iran, militant Islam will conquer the Middle East

Ultimately, Esther, Netanyahu, and we, the Jewish people, must and will rely on the true King, God, for our salvation from this genocidal threat.

Netanyahu addresses a clear, present & lethal threat to the US/Israel/WORLD; NOT political bickering

Buried in the tax-returns of the JCF is millions of dollars funneled to NIF in the last few years.

Bibi’s speech to Congress will bring respect and honor to the Jewish Nation from the US & the world

Obama & Putin have handwriting/signature clues indicating differences between public & private life

It’s time for a new Jewish policy regarding Ramallah, NOT just because of the yarmulke incident

“GETT’s” being screened for Israeli Rabbinical Court judges at their annual convention.

If Jackson were alive he’d denounce Democratic party’s silence towards virulent anti-Semitism

More Articles from Ita Yankovich
Yankovitch-030714-Houston

Wouldn’t it be great if you had a chavrusa working with you, guiding and helping you in your work environment?

Yankovitch-071913-uniform

In a time when service to one’s community seems to be a forgotten ideal, it is our pleasure to continue sharing with you the stories of those men and women who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

The Jewish Press recently sat down with Chaya Lipschutz, a Brooklyn woman who saved the life of a stranger.

In the past, people used to turn to coffee or orange juice to get through a midday slump, but today, many are turning to power and energy drinks for a quicker and longer-lasting jolt. The power drink industry is booming with projected sales of $9 billion and no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Every week nearly three million viewers tune into the Bravo cable channel to watch the hit reality franchise “The Real Housewives” – several shows that follow the lives of affluent housewives and professional women residing in several American metropolitan areas (“The Real Housewives of New York,” “The Real Housewives of Los Angeles,” of Miami, of Atlanta, etc.).

Not too many Jewish World War II survivors from Germany can say that they had the distinction of being both interned in a concentration camp and liberating the captives in that same camp. Erwin Weinberg did just that.

Recently I had the opportunity to spend some times with Bernard (Bernie) Walz and get a glimpse of his war experiences.

As I approached the home of Irving and Miriam Borenstein in the Mill Basin section of Brooklyn, two things became clear: the pride they feel at being Jewish and their joy at living in America. On their front lawn are large American and Israeli flags with a plaque in front which reads:

Never forget the six million murdered in the Holocaust and the three thousand murdered on 9/11.

May G-d remember them for the good with the other righteous of the world.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/a-jewish-american-veteran/2012/08/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: