News From Ramaz

MS Veterans Day Program: Meeting Rabbi Breslau, First Jewish Army Chaplain to Complete Paratrooper Training
Posted 11/13/2017 12:29AM


The entire Middle School marked Veterans Day together last week. The program was dedicated in honor of Dr. Dennis Freilich z"l, and students appreciated hearing memories from his grandchildren Alex (grade 8), Lily (grade 5), and Rachel (grade 8). Following their opening remarks, the MS was privileged to hear the unique story of Rabbi Breslau.

Rabbi Breslau went to the Illinois Institute of Technology in the morning and the Hebrew Theological College in the afternoon/evening and received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Smicha. He joined the US Army as a Jewish Chaplain in January, 1967 and was assigned to Fort Campbell, KY. It was the home of the 101st Airborne Division and also had a basic training center for new inductees.

The commander, Major General Benjamin Sternberg, thought it would be a great idea for Rabbi Breslau to go to Airborne School and join the 101st Airborne Division. Rabbi Breslau shared his experience completing the paratrooper training as the first Jewish chaplain in the history of the army to do so and he soon after leaving to Vietnam with the 101st in December, 1967.

Shortly thereafter, he was assigned to the 25th Corps in the northern area of South Vietnam and became the Jewish chaplain for the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Marine Divisions, the 101st, 1st Air Cavalry Division, and the American Division. Students heard of Rabbi Breslau's work organizing kosher food for troops in Vietnam and the Pesach seder he organized there too. Rabbi Breslau shared a voice recording he received a few months ago from a man who identified himself as the "shabbos goy" in Vietnam. He was looking for Rabbi Breslau and shared how he enjoyed and remembered the Havdallah service concluding the Shabbat.

Upon returning from his Vietnam tour, Rabbi Breslau was assigned to be the Jewish Chaplain at Fort Dix, NJ. Upon completion of his army tour, he went to NYU and received an MSEE and a degree in Engineering. He recently retired from IBM where he was designated a Master Inventor with 22 issued patents in various technical fields.

Rabbi Breslau is married and lives in Teaneck, NJ with 2 grown children and 4 grandchildren; he met his wife through one of the Fort Dix trainees whom he had invited to his home for a Shabbat lunch at Fort Dix.

Rabbi Breslau gave the students a chance to ask questions and concluded with the message from Yirmiyahu HaNavi and Pirkei Avot - Seek and pray for the peace and welfare of your government. One way in which we can seek the peace is by thanking the service men and women for their sacrifice on behalf of our country.

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