During World War II, more than a half-million Jews served in the American military. The story of the Jewish American military experience begins there, but World War II also marks the beginning of a second story -- the story of Jewish women in the American military. In honor of Veteran's Day, I have been thinking about this story, its beginnings, and how far we have come since then.
Every generation has specific dates that are indelibly etched into the memories of the people who lived them. For my generation of baby boomers, the day that President Kennedy was assassinated is one, followed by the days on which Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were killed. Most of us can remember vividly where we were and what we were doing as events unfolded on those historic dates.
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.
This week, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences honored the first Iranian Jew with an Emmy. She also happens to a woman—Lila Yomtoob. The Forward profiles Lila today, noting that her award is for working as a sound editor on the HBO documentary "Baghdad ER." The film follows the daily lives of doctors, nurses, soldiers, medics, and chaplains working in the U.S. Army's Baghdad medical facility in Iraq's Green Zone.
I am a 23 year old Jewish female, born and raised in the U.S. Until this point in my life, I thought I had a fair amount of responsibility—I went off to college hundreds of miles away from home and moved into an equally far away home of my own after graduating to begin a career. Yet, in contrast to my fellow female Israeli counterparts in their 20s, the responsibility on my shoulders pales in comparison.
As Israel resumes air strikes against Lebanon, after a brief pause of bombing, most of us are left wondering if peace in the Middle East is as possible as catching a unicorn ride to Narnia. And yet, as Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua recently put it, “I can be a pessimist for myself, but I have to be optimistic for [my grandchildren]. I have to keep the spirit.”
For the past two weeks, I’ve been reading the news reports about the escalating violence in Israel and Lebanon with dread and despair. I am struck by how unavoidable the violence seems to be, and yet how unconstructive it is, destroying lives, homes, businesses, and hope, while sowing further seeds of hate.