Remembering Jewish Women in the Service
Today, in honor of Veteran's Day, Jewesses with Attitude is starting a new series highlighting materials we have collected in our Jewish American Women & World War II online collecting project.This is the first in a multi-post series looking at the lives of Jewish women during the era of rations, Rosie the Riveter and the Roosevelts.
On Sunday, the Jewish Women's Archive, along with the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford, held a road show to collect materials related to American Jewish women and World War II. The goal of a road show is to scan a large number of artifacts in one place and at one time, and ours was a great success.
I spent the day at the scanner, collecting artifacts, each with its own story and memory relayed to me by the contributor.
Because the artifacts related to WWII, most of the women were old enough to be my grandmother, and this is what I loved most about working this event. Let me explain: I'm from Southern California, and with the exception of my husband, my entire family still lives out there, so I don't get to see my grandma as much as I'd like. Spending time with these women gave me a dose of storytelling that I haven't found a way to nurture so far away from my own nonagenarian.
Because it is Veteran's Day, I'd like to share the story and artifacts of Shirley Cohan Seltzer. Mrs. Seltzer enlisted in the WAVES ("Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service") in 1944 while working as a research assistant in a lab. During her time in the service she continued working in laboratories at Bethesda Medical Center. As one of the few Jewish women in her unit, she was assigned by the ensign to be in charge of Friday night services, much to the delight of her mother. Her work in the WAVES not only led her to the man she would eventually marry, but also to life-long friends. Several of the women she met in training came to her and her husband's 50th wedding anniversary, but sadly, she is one of only a handful still living. Today we thank Mrs. Seltzer and all her fellow WAVES for their service and sacrifices during WWII.
Stay tuned for more posts highlighting the stories and images we have added to our WWII online collecting project.