Rabbis Without Borders: Why My Father Went to War

February 10, 2017

"I had already seen the cover art of this week’s New Yorker magazine in a news feed, but when the magazine arrived in my mailbox , the image – a wisp of smoke ascending from Lady Liberty’s smoldering torch – brought tears to my eyes. The only words I could articulate were, 'This is not what my father went to war for.'

My father fought in many brutal theaters of war – North Atlantic and South Pacific and Northern Africa. But when he was on leave in Charleston, SC, he faced what he characterized as one of the most challenging moments of his war-time experience. As he, by then a large and muscular sailor, walked down the sidewalk, a very frail, elderly African American man walking toward him stepped off into the gutter to allow him to pass. My father, raised in Pennsylvania, had never seen such a thing. Shaken to his core, he asked the man what he was doing. When my father learned that this was the law, he picked the frightened man up bodily and put him back on the sidewalk. They both cried as the black man stepped back into the gutter...."

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By Rabbi Eliana Falk, a Rabbis Without Borders Fellow, from the Rabbis Without Borders Blog on My Jewish Learning.com