Nate Josephson fought with the Armored Infantry in the Battle of the Bulge.
Mel Mann came ashore with the 5th Marine Division at Iwo Jima.
Marvin Reidbord served in the Army Medical Corps in France and Germany during the aftermath of World War II; he aided the destitute Jewish community in Paris by providing it with much-needed medicines.
For the first time since their military service, these three are among 115 veterans, all members of Temple Sinai — men and women — who will be publicly recognized for their contributions to their country.
On Friday evening, Nov. 12 — just one day after Veteran’s Day — Temple Sinai will host a Sabbath service celebrating its members who served in the military, from World War II through the present conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“These people lived out the meaning of citizenship as Jews by serving their country,” said Rabbi James Gibson, senior rabbi at Temple Sinai.
Noting that some of his congregation’s veterans are now in their 90s, Gibson, who conceived the event, said he did not want to miss the opportunity to honor them.
Friday’s celebration will also mark the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II.
“We are so proud of our Temple Sinai family members who have given of themselves to our nation,” Gibson said.
The names of 85 living and 30 deceased veterans will be read at the Friday Shabbat service, according to Gibson. Memorabilia, including the veterans’ purple hearts and other medals, will be on display at the Temple and interviews with many of the veterans, facilitated by David Shribman, editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, will be shown in a video presentation before and after the service.
“This will be a significant moment in the life of our congregation,” Gibson said.
Dr. Andrew Lobl, an Air Force veteran who recently returned from Iraq, will read the prayer for the country in time of war from a government-issued prayer book.
Josephson was drafted when he was 23 years old, but he remembers being “pretty gung ho” about serving his country. “Very few” of his peers did not enter the service, he said.
“I thought it was my duty to serve,” said Josephson, who declined to recount the details of his time in the war. “I don’t like to go into that. I had some harrowing experiences.”
Josephson has never before been publicly recognized for his service.
Sandy Baskin, a founding member of Temple Sinai, served in the 36th Texas Division, attached to the 7th Army, during World War II. While he “didn’t like being in the army,” he is happy that the Temple is recognizing its veterans.
“I’m glad they’re doing it,” he said. “I’m surprised there are so many [veterans]. I thought there would only be a handful. It’s nice. I didn’t do anything to win the war, but it was an honor just to be there and to be recognized now.”
Temple Sinai members Phyllis and Joe Weinkle have helped to organize the evening’s program. Estelle and Mel Mann, and Faye and Nate Josephson are honorary co-chairs of the event.
The service is open to the public and an oneg will follow.
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)