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‘Profiles of Our Fallen’: Readers Respond, With Gratitude and Prayer

The Forward’s February 18 feature “Profiles of Our Fallen” looked at 37 American Jewish service members who lost their lives during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The feature generated an outpouring of responses from our readers. Here is a sampling.

The Forward has performed a noble service by calling these men’s and women’s supreme sacrifices to our attention.

Jerome Lubelchek
Chicago, Ill.

May the Lord bless and keep all those who serve. Whatever their religion, all those who died made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Freedom is not free, and no matter your opinion on the war, know that they died while serving to protect us all. My brother, Michael Tarlavsky, was one of those heroes.

Elina Wallis
Levittown, N.Y.

If your synagogue does not yet offer a prayer for those who serve during Shabbat services, please urge its leaders to do so. May their souls “shine like the brightness of the firmament” and may their memories be an inspiration and a blessing.

Rabbi Cary Kozberg
Columbus, Ohio

I am not Jewish, nor do I support these wars. But I am an American who feels that everyone who makes the choice to join the military needs our support.

I took the time to read each word written about these very special people, with tears flowing. It saddens me greatly that several of those listed lived close to my home, yet I heard nothing of their deaths. If someone is willing to give their life for our country, the least the media can do is honor them and their loved ones by reporting on their life and death. We as citizens should know who they are by their names.

The media feels it is more important to report on the lives of those in Hollywood, as if they are the heroes. Thank you Forward for doing what should be done as the front page, lead story of all American newspapers, daily.

Cyndy Tyler
Huntsville, Ala.

As a recently retired first sergeant in the U.S. Army, I truly appreciate the efforts of my fallen brothers and sisters — Jewish and all others — and of the Forward for this article. Many Americans do not value the efforts of the military in trying to spread democracy to war-torn countries. I saw firsthand coalition forces teaching Iraqis skills that will last them generations: skills to improve their living conditions and educational, religious and political opportunities. These are things that are rarely covered by anyone in any form of media.

If you support the troops, then you should support our jobs in wartime and peacetime. If you don’t support the troops, feel free to grab an M-4 or an M-16 and stand in front of our troops facing the enemy that hates us and our way of life.

Thanks again for the article, and I pray that it never needs to be updated!

Matthew Kirsner
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

As a Modern Orthodox Jew, I was both terribly embarrassed and deeply saddened by this feature. While there was one young man in our shul who served in Iraq and, happily, survived his tour to return home, marry and start a family, myself and many fellow congregants have allowed ourselves to be both unaware and insufficiently concerned about the young Jews who have served this wonderful country and all too often, as you’ve pointed out, not returned from their missions.

Thank you for your long and very personal article. The loss of these children is not just confined to their families but shared by all of us. We should all mourn for them yet keep them alive in our prayers.

Martin Schulman
Jamaica Estates, N.Y.

Thanks for taking the time and effort to publish these poignant remembrances of these warriors, their life stories and the pain of their families. I am a disabled Vietnam vet.

Joel Rosenbaum
Eatontown, N.J.

In our synagogue, every Shabbat since the beginning of the wars, we have included the names of all the service members who have fallen during the previous week in our Kaddish list, which also includes weekly remembrance of the 6 million murdered in the Holocaust.

Rabbi Brooks R. Susman
Freehold, N.J.

I am Jewish and served in Vietnam in 1967. I could write a book about my experiences, anti-Semitism and all. The sad truth is that many in the Jewish community avoided military service for different reasons. In retrospect I should have done the same. I ache for the people mentioned in this article, and by the luck of the draw I am alive to write this.

Stephen Garbowit
Hamden, Conn.

While serving as a lay leader in a small Canadian Jewish community, I spoke at our annual November 11 Remembrance Day service. I began by solemnly reading the names and ages of the 14 Jewish men from our community who perished in the Second World War.

I was told later that many in attendance were shaken to hear out loud how young our soldiers were when they died — barely older than the boys from BBYO who formed the honor guard.

I spoke about how not only was their loss mourned over 65 years ago but also to this day as they were not with us to help in the growth of our community — our synagogues, our schools, our support for Israel. We have missed their children and grandchildren who should have been running through the hallways of our Hebrew school and celebrating simchas in our shuls.

Reading the memorials to each of the Jewish Americans who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan reminded me how precious life is and how not only their survivors but also future generations will suffer.

It is important to remember those in our communal family who sacrificed their lives for tikkun olam.

Neil Loomer
North Vancouver, British Columbia

The highest Jewish value is life. It is extremely sad to read these articles about young women and men who fell in the service of their country. I am a veteran of Vietnam (where I served in the American army) and Lebanon (where I served in the Israeli army). I hope that future generations will learn war no more.

Michael Chai
Ein Dor, Israel

As the first active-duty chaplain in the Canadian Forces since World War II, I highly commend the Forward for this timely article.

I believe that these kedoshim, holy ones, who have paid the ultimate price for protecting our freedoms, deserve our unreserved respect, admiration and gratitude. May their souls be bound up with God almighty.

Rabbi Lazer Danzinger
Thornhill, Ontario

I was fascinated by the variety of backgrounds represented through these profiles. I spent three years in Iraq as a civilian. Early on, I realized that while Afghanistan might be considered a “righteous” war, after providing sanctuary to Bin Laden, Iraq was a terrible mistake, unnecessary and a debacle. The waste of lives was avoidable.

But this is not meant to be a soapbox for my own views on the war. I attended services on my base, whenever possible, and was proud and impressed with the Jewish servicemen and women I met there who chose to serve their country.

Thank you for bringing those Jewish service people who lost their lives into focus as individuals, not just as another statistic. May they rest in peace.

Craig Handfinger
Haiku, Hawaii

Thank you for this. These men and women, the beautiful and diverse faces of our Jewish community, inspire me. Their deaths are our loss. May their memories be a blessing for us and for America.

Jeremy Burton
New York, N.Y.

Those who question why there is an involvement in Afghanistan against the Taliban will one day — let’s look at 2031 — say that it was necessary to be there. The Australian Defence Force is also there. We lost Private Greg Sher on January 4, 2009 in Oruzgan Province. Other Jewish men and women of the Australian Defence Force are there, deployed in operational areas and on U.N. peacekeeping duties.

Let us say prayers for the souls of the fallen service people and for the safety of those on active duty.

Ben Hirsh
President Victorian Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen & Women
Melbourne, Australia

I commend the Forward for “Profiles of Our Fallen.” It is important to support and honor the troops even if we dissent from the policies of our government.

Aaron Finestone
Philadelphia, Pa.

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