ALBANY – Members of the Jewish War Veterans (J.W.V.) Capital District Council welcomed the holiday season of 2022 with several mitzvot, hoping to share good spirits and honor the service of fellow veterans. J.W.V. posts in Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga Springs and Amsterdam had members volunteering their time and resources.
The organization helped to load donated Christmas trees in November that were bound for military installations around the country. The effort was part of Trees for Troops, and the contribution marked the second year of J.W.V.’s participation. Capital District Council Commander Rich Goldenberg joined the effort to load 125 trees and spoke of his time deployed to Middle East during a holiday season and the important connection service members have with communities at home.
The Capital Region Jewish veterans continued their holiday efforts on Sunday, Dec. 11 with the placement of memorial stones at the gravesites of Jewish veterans at the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery. J.W.V. placed stones on graves to honor and remember 180 individuals. It was explained that it is a new initiative to parallel the nationwide Wreaths Across America, an effort that raises donations to place non-denominational remembrance wreaths at veterans’ graves. Eleven volunteers turned out for the program “meant to honor and remember our fallen,” noted Albany Post 105 Commander Fred Altman. As snow started falling, the group met for the Mourner’s Kaddish, at the J.W.V. monument.
The Jewish veteran efforts continued with a modification to the annual Operation Jingle Bells visit to the Stratton VA Medical Center in Albany. The local J.W.V. has a decades-long tradition of visiting with patients and staff at the hospital each Christmas Eve, with the goal that no veteran should be alone for the holiday, noted Past Post 105 Commander Dr. Howard Pressman, a retired medical provider at the VA Medical Center. “This is our second year without making in-person visits, but our commitment to lend support to the patients continues in every way we can,” Pressman said.
With COVID 19 and other health concerns in 2022, visitation was not available to the volunteers, so members of Albany Post 105 and Schenectady Post 106 provided financial contributions to the VA Volunteer Services office, lending their support of $720 to efforts that directly impact hospital’s patients.
“We appreciate your continued dedication in provided for the needs of the increasing number of veterans we serve,” said Michael Fitzpatrick, the VA Center chief of volunteer services in a written acknowledgement. “It means so much to veterans when they are remembered and recognized.”
The J.W.V. Capital District Council reports that Jewish War Veterans is the oldest, active national veteran’s organization in America and is known as the “Patriotic Vote of American Jewry.” Jewish veterans interested in learning more about organization are invited to visit www.jwv.org.