The National Museum of
American Jewish Military History

1811 R Street NW, Washington, D.C 20009. | 202-265-6280 | |

Hall of Heroes:American Jewish Recipients of The Medal of Honor

Then National Commander Ronald Ziegler

Hall of Heroes: American Jewish Recipients of the Medal of Honor

The Hall of Heroes tells the stories of many of our bravest heroes. But as National Commander, it is one of my predecessors, Benjamin Kaufman, whose story I find most inspiring.

During the Battle of the Argonne on October 4, 1918, Ben Kaufman's unit came under heavy fire from a German machine gun. Although his arm had been shattered by an enemy bullet, with two other men, he started to flank the machine gun position. The two men were quickly wounded, but Kaufman continued alone, lobbing grenades with his left arm. When he reached the German position, he captured the last surviving German soldier. He returned to the American lines with the prisoner and essential information about the German positions that allowed the Americans to advance.

Kaufman received the Medal of Honor for his actions that day. But his service to his country continued. When he returned home, he put his Medal of Honor in a trunk. He never used the Medal or his status as a disabled veteran to get himself a job or an elected office. When World War II began, he attempted to enlist in the Army, but was refused on account of his age and disability. Instead Kaufman spent the early years of the war as National Commander of the Jewish War Veterans (1941-1942), where he supervised JWV's All Out War Program. Under his leadership, he raised money for the war effort (including the purchase of several pursuit planes for the U.S. Army Air Corps), oversaw morale building activities for the troops, created a jobs program for returning veterans and worked to combat discrimination on the Home Front. After he retired from his job as Director of the Trenton State Employment Department, Kaufman began a new career as National Executive Director of the Jewish War Veterans from 1947-1959.

Hall of Heroes: American Jewish Recipients of the Medal of Honor

In the 1930s, Ben Kaufman established a JWV post in Trenton, New Jersey. The Ben Kaufman Post #156 bears his name as a living memorial to his heroism at war and at home.

The Jewish War Veterans joins the National Museum of American Jewish Military History in saluting all our heroes. As you read this exhibit catalogue and visit its accompanying exhibit at the museum, please take a moment to remember the bravery of our former National Commander Ben Kaufman, the other twelve Medal of Honor recipients and the other American Jewish military heroes, with and without medals.

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