In 1942, after first serving as a rabbi in Buffalo, New York, and then in Chicago, Illinois, Rabbi Judah Nadich (Baltimore 1912 – New York 2007) enlisted in the United States Army as a chaplain. A few months later he became the first Jewish chaplain in the European Theater of Operations during World War II.
Rabbi Nadich’s service began with the normal responsibilities of an army chaplain. In 1944, however, he was sent to France. Following the Allies into Paris, he became a contact between the community of survivors and the greater Jewish world.
When Rabbi Nadich was transferred to Frankfurt a year later, he became the first ever Advisor on Jewish Affairs to the Commander of U.S. Forces in Europe, General Dwight D. Eisenhower. In this new role, Rabbi Nadich toured the region and saw that the living conditions of the displaced persons (DP) camps were little better than the concentration camps. Because of Rabbi Nadich’s recommendations, the Jews were given separate DP camps that did not have barbed–wire fences, were provided with better food, and a relaxation of travel restrictions were granted to the DPs. Most importantly, Nadich convinced the U.S. not to enforce a policy requiring DPs to return to their native countries.
Following his discharge from the army, Rabbi Nadich worked for the Joint Distribution Committee and the United Jewish Appeal as a spokesperson and fundraiser. He married and returned to life as a pulpit rabbi, first in Brookline, Massachusetts, and then at the Park Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan. In 1953 he published a book, Eisenhower and the Jews.
Rabbi Nadich served the Park Avenue Synagogue until 1987, when he retired. He passed away in 2007, at the age of 95.
Today, Veterans’ Day, Jewish Treats proudly salutes all those who have served our country with valor.