We Remember and Give Honor

We Remember and Give Honor

Rabbi’s Message – November 10, 2020

Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz

One of the most moving speakers I’ve heard at Temple Israel was Pastor Chris Edmonds, who has twice shared the incredible story of his father, Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds, and his organization “Roddie’s Code.”  The message never gets old, only more important.  In this matrix of time, today we stand between remembering the events that signify the beginning of the Holocaust and honoring veterans who served our country, it is only appropriate for us to recall this inspirational story.  His father’s courage to say “we are all Jews here” has been featured in GI Jews and in Pastor Edmond’s 2019 book “No Surrender: The Story of an Ordinary Soldier’s Extraordinary Courage in the Face of Evil,” in which he shares the story of his father’s brave choice to risk his life to save those of the Jewish U.S. infantrymen in the final days of WWII.  

As we give honor to all those who have served our country in war or in peace, we appreciate all who sacrificed and put their own lives on the line to uphold our freedom and dignity.   We especially give thanks for their role in liberating prisoners from the death camps at the end of WWII.  I invite us all to take some time to ourselves to reflect on Master Sergeant Edmond’s heroic story.  Thank you to all our veterans who have served to ensure freedom and democracy.  

If you are interested in watching GI Jews, you may do so through Amazon (or other platforms) and if you would like to learn more about Roddie’s Code and Pastor Edmond’s No Surrender, be sure to look at his website. 

Honoring the Fallen

Honoring Those Who Gave All

by Scott Halasz

As Memorial Day quickly approaches, Ethan Zied wants everyone to remember that all gave some, and some gave all.

As part of his Eagle Scout project, Ethan created a database of the 2,500 veterans buried at the 25 Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati. The ultimate intention of the project was to be able to place markers and flags at each of the gravesites.

“We started working with the database,” Ethan said. “We started trying to get markers. We want to get flags before Memorial Day, which was the goal, but not part of the project.”

Close to 1,000 graves have been flagged and marked. About half of the Walnut Hills cemetery was marked last May and another chunk was completed within the last week. And Ethan, a crew of helpers from the Valley Temple Men’s Club as well as some other Cincinnati-area families didn’t let the coronavirus keep them from getting all of the Montgomery cemetery marked recently as well.

Ethan is hoping the job is completely finished by Memorial Day 2021. There are 23 cemeteries left but many are near each other, much like the Temple Israel and Beth Abraham cemeteries in Oakwood, and some may only have one or two graves to mark.

“The markers will stay at the grave forever,” Ethan’s father, Eric, said. They are hoping to have the flags stay up year-round as well, but Mother Nature may have something to say about that.

“We’re certainly experimenting at this point,” Eric said, adding that they will replace any flags annually around Memorial Day.

Ethan’s effort earned him the Dan Beard Council’s Eagle Project of the Year Award. There were more than 350 Eagle Scouts in the 2019 class.

“It’s pretty cool,” Ethan said. “I had a very good feeling. I think my project was pretty solid. Lots of projects aren’t really impactful or meaningful to the scout.”

Many projects are temporary and involve building something that may affect a small group.

“I think mine is meaningful, impactful, long lasting and sustainable,” Ethan said. “I figured it had a pretty good chance of winning.”

While marking graves, Ethan and Eric were approached by cemetery visitors asking what they were doing. 

“They were definitely moved by that,” Eric said. “People definitely appreciated it.”

Ethan also received some serious validation from a fellow scout, who had actually been working on a similar project but stopped because he thought it was too difficult.

“When he found out the fact that I won the award, I guess he tried to work on it again,” Ethan said. “That’s pretty neat.”