More US senators than rabbis?

You may have read the recent AP article which was published widely—including in the Rapid City Journal—titled “South Dakota Jewish community small, tight-knit” (if not, you can read it here). The article tells how South Dakota has the smallest Jewish community in the United States—which continues to dwindle—and is the only state without a permanent rabbi. (People are amused when we say that we have two more United States senators than we have rabbis.)

The Synagogue of the Hills has received emails and calls from all over the United States and from foreign countries—including Israel and Peru—and we want to leverage the attention of the many people who are thinking about us and who want to know more.

There has long been a desire to have a permanent rabbi at The Synagogue of the Hills and the article has encouraged a plan (a campaign, if you will) to increase the Jewish population in the Black Hills by twenty-five families in the next two years. Rapid City needs a “critical” mass of Jewish families in order to enhance the vitality of the synagogue and, perhaps, attract a permanent rabbi—I am asking for your help to make that happen.

We live in the Black Hills and we know what a wonderful ambiance, quality of life, and opportunities this area has to offer. Do you know Jewish families who would love living in the Black Hills and who would be a great addition to our community? A family who would enjoy driving from place to place and never hearing a horn honked—unless someone is getting their friend’s attention to wave at them. Does someone in your family or one of your friends know such a family? Will you share the idea of bringing twenty-five Jewish families to the Black Hills with them? Do you have ideas that could make this campaign successful? If so, please share.

A mysterious box in the driveway

All of my recent blogs about my family’s military history brought to mind a fun story about a mysterious box I once found in my driveway.

One August evening in 1995 I came home and was surprised to find an old wooden box in my driveway. Though there was some writing on the outside about the 528th Engineers, I couldn’t see a name and there was no explanation as to why it was there. A call to the National Guard revealed that there had never been South Dakota Guard unit with the number 528. My next call was to the police who came as did airmen from Ellsworth trained in demolition—should the box present a threat. At the very last minute, rereading of the inscriptions by flashlight as it was dark out by this time, I saw the term “state room” and the name “Lt. M.E. Adelstein” stenciled in orange and realized the old wooden box was my father’s footlocker from World War I.

Despite a big story in the Journal (1995-09-14 army locker mysteriously appears), we never learned who had returned the footlocker to my family or where it had been found. While the footlocker was empty, it brought back memories of my father and I am grateful to have it as a keepsake.


Exploring three generations of military service–the third generation

In this the last story about three generations of Adelsteins in the military, today I’ll tell the story of a hospital named for a Jewish general and the story of Morris’s grandson.

In the late 1940s there was a very special kind of discrimination against Jewish doctors. Denver, which was still a relatively small town at the time, had a quota—not to be exceeded—of Jewish doctors that were allowed on staff at each hospital. A number of Jewish men really resented this limit and decided that Denver should have a hospital built by contributions from the Jewish community. A national fundraising campaign was initiated and successfully raised the funds needed to build the hospital. The hospital was named General Rose Memorial Hospital in honor of Major General Maurice Rose, the highest ranking Jewish officer in the U.S. Army during World War II. (Click here if you would like to learn more about Major General Maurice Rose.)

A point was made by recognizing Major General Maurice Rose—one of the very few Jewish officers.

Years later, I would sit in the father’s waiting room at the General Rose Memorial Hospital awaiting the arrival of my first child with my father-in-law, Leo Korn, who escaped from Poland after the start of the Holocaust. We heard the baby’s first cry at midnight between November 23rd and November 24th of 1954. As the baby cried, the “The Star-Spangled Banner” sounded on the waiting room’s TV. A prophetic sound for this tiny baby? Perhaps.

Our series of stories, which began with Morris Adelstein’s battle field commission, comes full circle sixty years later with the commissioning of Morris Adelstein’s grandson at West Point. This grandson proved the promise of the United States and retired as a Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel.

(Click here for more about the history the General Rose Memorial Hospital)