web analytics
September 2, 2015 / 18 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Live From Nazi Germany – A U.S. Army Jewish Prayer Service


More than 140,000 people in the past month have clicked their way to a dramatic YouTube video (www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZihm6VlYjo) about a historic Jewish religious service led by a Brooklyn-born U.S. Army chaplain.

The video tells how, on October 29, 1944, as artillery shells exploded in the distance, Chaplain Sidney Lefkowitz led the first Jewish service for advancing Allied soldiers broadcast from liberated German soil.

Two weeks before that day came a momentous turning point in the history of freedom: “At 10:30 this morning we crossed the border … now, at last, we are in Germany itself,” writes the chaplain in his diary.

“Our first act, after setting up, was to have a snapshot made of our Jeep, flying the flag of the Jewish chaplain.”

At the historic service he led, the rabbi raised a flag of hope for many. He sent a powerful message to a world wearied by four years of cataclysmic war.

And through the plaintive chanting of the Ein Kelokeinu prayer and the other prayers he led that day, he sent a message, too, to Jews everywhere, that the Jewish people would live again, that the Nazi regime of genocide – and the world of hate, slavery, and murder it created – would be trampled underfoot.

In a booming, sonorous voice clearly heard on the video, Rabbi Lefkowitz proclaimed: “The light of religious freedom has pierced through the darkness of Nazi persecution. Freedom of conscience again exists in the land which had been denying men that.”

“The eternal truth has lived through,” declared the chaplain, “and will outlive the fanatical power which fought to destroy it.”

“The service at Aachen certainly marked the beginning of a new day, but only after a most horrendous night,” explained Professor Barry Lynn, president of the United States Commission on Military History.

“We proudly remember Chaplain Sidney Lefkowitz,” said Chaplain (Major General) Douglas L. Carver, Army Chief of Chaplains. “The service he conducted stands as a great moment in history.”

Indeed, immediately after NBC broadcast the service, numerous articles about it appeared in newspapers across the country. The reaction of the rabbi’s home synagogue, Beth Sholom, in Brooklyn, was characteristic.

The congregation sent him a letter telling him: “We were thrilled to hear your voice on such a memorable occasion and we are not ashamed to tell you that the tears flowed when we heard the boys sing.” They expressed their hope that “victory for righteousness will very speedily prevail and you and all the boys will be home once again.”

After the war, Rabbi Lefkowitz moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where his daughter, his grandson, and his great-grandchildren live today.

The rabbi’s daughter, Ann Lentz, said that a belief in God and man and a fiery passion for liberty drove her father all the years of his life.

She recalled how, as a girl, sneaking around her parents’ attic, she discovered and opened a locked piece of her father’s luggage.

In it she found a collection of articles from the war, including, to her horror, photos her father had taken of prisoners at Camp Dora, near Nordhausen, a Nazi concentration camp.

During walks with Ann, late in his life, he told her of the sadness he carried as a result of the terrible things he had seen as a chaplain.

“But no one ever saw his sadness,” said Ann, “and he turned it to the good, by transforming it into sensitivity to others.”

To be sure, it was the rabbi’s sensitivity and compassion for others that prompted the American Jewish Committee – which co-sponsored the broadcast from Germany and produced the video about it – to recently name an international humanitarian award in his honor.

The organization will present the award annually to an individual who, like Rabbi Sidney Lefkowitz, has made outstanding contributions to advancing the great ideals of mankind.

Just as Rabbi Lefkowitz in 1944 inspired a nation, he is inspiring many thousands today through the unusually popular YouTube video that tells of the historic service he conducted.

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.

No Responses to “Live From Nazi Germany – A U.S. Army Jewish Prayer Service”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Jewish blood libel cartoon posted on Facebook sometime in 2014 by an UNRWA teacher in Jordan.
UNRWA Teacher in Jordan Promotes Hatred of Jews on Facebook
Latest Indepth Stories

So it is critical that readers in the districts indicated come out to vote.

We urge readers to seek out upcoming rallies scheduled for times and places that work for them.

To be sure, the worst of what was directed at Mr. Nadler by some random hotheads with no real power or influence (calling him a “kapo,” for example) was over the top.

We can readily understand that it would be an embarrassment to the president were Congress to reject the deal he struck, even if that rejection would be vetoed and go nowhere.

As the First Zionist Congress was indisputably one of the seminal events in modern Jewish history, it is not surprising that it became the subject of some of the most beloved, beautiful, and rare Rosh Hashanah cards ever created.

Many in the media impart bias in place of truth; convey personal prejudice over objective facts.

Nahal Haredi is the ultimate solution, according to Branski, serving haredim from a wide variety of backgrounds – chassidish and yeshivish, Sephardi and Askenazi.

A recent study found that 54% of Jewish college students experienced/witnessed anti-Semitism in 2014

The purpose of an attack on Joseph’s Tomb is to murder Jews at prayer and destroy a Jewish holy site

A nuclear Khomenist Tehran will be a threat to Western democracies and to Jerusalem in particular

The MONSTERS of Nebi Saleh know well the damning, visceral impact of powerful, deceitful imagery.

Jewish Voice for Peace openly supports BDS movement against ALL of Israel & ending the Jewish State.

In recent years, there has been a big push to grow and develop American Football here in Israel.

Unlike Judaism & Christianity which honors “truth,” Islam pursues “Taqiyya,” strategic lying

More Articles from Gary Spruch

More than 140,000 people in the past month have clicked their way to a dramatic YouTube video (www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZihm6VlYjo) about a historic Jewish religious service led by a Brooklyn-born U.S. Army chaplain.

Shortly after she became chief archivist at the American Jewish Committee in 2001, Charlotte Bonelli came to believe the material she was discovering should be shared with the world.

“I would pull a box a box off a shelf, open it up, and find inside, for instance, World War II-era pro-democracy comics or scripts of radio broadcasts featuring stars such as James Cagney, William Holden, and Helen Hayes urging unity on the home front,” says Bonelli.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/live-from-nazi-germany-a-u-s-army-jewish-prayer-service/2007/12/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: