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

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

This book includes the names of many of the men of the Jewish faith who have received the top medals awarded for heroism in the United States Armed Forces. Because of the complexity of finding a soldier's religion and then the process of obtaining additional information, our list is not complete and we do not have citations and biographical information on everyone. We are still looking for more.

The religious identity of a soldier is not always easy to determine. In the past, because of anti-Semitism, many Jewish soldiers felt the need to change their names or enlist as a Christian. Simon Suhler, the recipient from the Indian Wars, received his Medal while serving under the name Charles Gardner. Suhler's identity was only revealed a century later when his great-nephew, William Suhler, began researching a family story about a mystery uncle in San Antonio. There might be other unknown heroes who hid their names or their identities and have been lost to the history with neither family nor community to claim them.

Since the Second World War, the military has stopped keeping records of soldiers' religion. Therefore, a request cannot be made to provide the religion of every medal recipient. For those who served earlier, their files might reveal their religion or often the religion would be omitted or listed as something different.

Over the years, many books have been published listing Jewish Medal of Honor recipients. These books are not always correct, or include individuals who converted out of Judaism. It has been the policy of the curators of this exhibit to use these books as guides, but to search past them to find primary sources validating that the Medal of Honor recipient felt he was a member of the Jewish faith. Only those Medal of Honor recipients who have this primary source evidence have been included in this book.

For the others, we have not considered finding a person's religion listed as something other than Jewish or buried under a cross the end of our search. Oftentimes, there are factors, such as societal pressures or family issues involved. The only thing that ends our search is confirmation by a family member or evidence that the person was an active member of a different religion. One recipient who is often included in the listing of Jewish Medal of Honor recipients was active in the lay leadership of his local Baptist church and is buried in their graveyard and we have excluded him from our list. But there are others for whom we are still searching for the final word.

There is no single list available for the recipients of the Top Three Crosses and no single source for citations. Some people have worked to compile lists of the Jewish recipients themselves, which we used for this publication. In the years following World War I, Sydney Gumpertz and Ben Kaufman began the Jewish Legion of Valor, an organization for men of the Jewish faith who had received the nation's top medals. Gumpertz published a book, Jewish Legion of Valor, listing the members of the organization and this is a good source for the names of Cross recipients, as well as biographical information and citations. A similar set of books, called American Jews in World War II, published by the Jewish Welfare Board, provides similar information for World War II. The Jewish Veteran, the periodical published by the Jewish War Veterans, also provided similar information during that war. The JWV two-volume anniversary book, One Hundred Years of Service, provided other names.

In 2000, a plea was sent out through The Jewish Veteran, JWV Department Commanders and the Legion of Valor for any Jewish recipients who received these medals to please let us know. Many answered our call, giving us their names, their fathers' names or their comrades' names.

The National Museum of American Jewish Military History hopes that we have not found all the Jewish American recipients of the Medal of Honor or of the Top Three Crosses. Our search continues. If you know of someone who is not here, please let us know. Hopefully, in the future, this exhibit catalogue will grow until it is a complete list of the Bravest of the Brave of our military heroes.

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