Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America
- JWV of the U.S.A.
District of Columbia
Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. (JWV) is the longest running veterans service organization out there. JWV was founded in 1896 by a group of 63 Jewish veterans from the Civil War after a series of anti-Semitic comments about the lack of Jewish service in the Civil War. Since then, JWV has been working hard to be the voice of American Jewry in the veteran community.
However, JWV has been up to much more than fighting against anti-Semitism since 1896. In World War I, JWV was essential to establishing the Jewish chaplaincy within the military. JWV also fought to include other grave markers in veterans’ cemeteries, such as the Star of David. During the rise of the Third Reich, JWV led a huge protest march and boycott of Nazi Germany and their goods. JWV campaigned hard for the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act, which eventually led to Nazi leaders in America being deported from the United States.
In World War II, JWV fought hard for the Jewish soldier, airman, sailor and marine. Jewish services were conducted on the battlefield in part due to the JWV SOS program, where Jewish communities were able to send packages to the American troops. When the troops came home, JVW was there for them. JVW campaigned to have religious and racial protections put into the 1944 GI Bill, which ended up allowing Jewish and other minority soldiers to use their GI benefits to lift themselves out of poverty.
During the Cold War years, JWV fought the Ku Klux Klan, the John Birch Society and fought hard for the rights of Jewish American soldiers during McCarthyism, when Jewish American troops were being accused or let go because of their Eastern European upbringing. JWV also spearheaded the National Conference on Soviet Jewry in the 1960s that eventually led to thousands of Soviet Jews being freed from the Eastern Bloc.
In 1955, JWV established the National Museum of American Jewish Military History as a living testimony to Jewish American military service going all the way back to Asser Levy in the American colony of New Amsterdam. Since then, thousands have gone through the museum to learn more about the rich Jewish history and what major sacrifices Jewish Americans have made in the name of American democratic values.
During the Vietnam War, JWV worked hard once again to create care packages for the Jewish soldiers overseas and also campaigned vigorously for the return of all prisoners of war (POWS) from this conflict.
During the post-Vietnam era, JWV led a national protest after it was announced that the United States would close the Haifa USO. The decision was reversed in 1989, and the USO was kept open with the help of donations from JWV until its final closing in 2002.
After the attacks on September 11th, JWV sprang into action yet again to continue to serve the Jewish American military community. They sent packages and served as lay leaders once again in the Jewish military community. JWV was also there when Jewish service members came home. Hundreds of JWV members attended funerals of fallen Jewish soldiers during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
JWV fought hard for its members who did not receive awards because of anti-Semitism. In 2002, the Leonard Kravitz Jewish War Veterans Act was passed thanks to the efforts of JWV, which resulted in 24 service members being awarded the Medal of Honor, who were initially passed over because of discrimination.
In the 2010s, JWV fought once again for the Medals of Honor for Tibor Rubin and for William Shemin. JWV also became involved in the national debate on sexual assault in the military, and campaigned for the Deborah Sampson Act, which guarantees the right for care to any female veteran.
When Israeli Minister Tzipi Hotovely said that American Jews “never send their children to fight…serving as soldiers, going to the Marines, going to Afghanistan, or to Iraq,” JWV fought to correct this injustice that ultimately ended in an apology from Minister Hotovely. In addition, JWV continues to work with the Israeli government on ways to educate the Israeli public about Jewish American military service from the Revolutionary War to today’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The JWV affirms that Jewish men and women serve honorably and heroically in the military forces of the United States of America during peacetime and war. The JWV defends the rights and benefits of all service members and veterans, fights anti-Semitism, and supports the State of Israel.
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday to Friday
Handicapped & wheelchair accessible
The National Museum of American Jewish Military History documents and preserves the contributions of Jewish Americans to the peace and freedom of the United States, educates the public concerning the courage, heroism and sacrifices made by Jewish Americans who served in the armed forces, and works to combat anti-Semitism.
The purpose of the museum is to preserve a record of the patriotic contributions of the men and women of the Jewish faith who served during and between times of war in the Armed Forces of the United States and as veterans thereof, from the time of the founding of this country to the present, for future generations by illustration through public education utilizing the Museum’s collections for exhibits, publications, and educational programs.
The museum was founded in 1958 by a group of Jewish War Veterans, who saw the value in telling the story of American Jewish Warriors. It is located in the historic Dupont Circle area, and it is near the Dupont Circle Metro Station, as well as having a Capital Bikeshare station directly in front of the museum.
The museum is open Monday through Friday 9-5, Sundays by appointment, and admission is free. If you wish to schedule a group tour, please call 202-265-6280 or email email@example.com.