Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur in Bavaria September 1945

Published date03 October 2022
Publication titleIsrael National News (Israel)
It is essential to understand the chaplains did not officially represent the American rabbinate or any other American Jewish organization in their work with the DPs. Of the 311 Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Jewish chaplains, more than 90 had direct interaction with DPs from 1944-1948

In late August 1945, Chaplain Abraham Klausner, a Reform rabbi, who was one of the most innovative, resourceful and determined chaplains, met with seven or eight American Jewish chaplains stationed in Germany to urge them to establish a package program with the assistance of American Jewish soldiers. In addition to adequate housing ,the survivors desperately needed basic necessities such as shoes and clothing. Dr. Zalman Grinberg, a young physician from Kovno, warned that with winter approaching, Jews did not have "proper clothes and footwear. Most did not have overcoats, no pullovers and no underwear."

The chaplains agreed to create a package program and decided to make the appeals during the High Holidays, because the maximum number of soldiers could be reached at that time.

One soldier described the New Year's services he attended in Munich as providing "a negative sort of inspiration, an emotion embodying a sense of shock, futility, of need for action." The mood had been created by the presence of approximately 50 survivors from a nearby displaced persons camp and by the sermon delivered by Chaplain Abraham Klausner,

"The survivors' prayers were genuine," the soldier explained, "their weeping from the soul—but without tears. Their tears had long ago become dried from years of tragedy and sorrow." He could not "possibly reduplicate the atmosphere created by this group of circumstances," but wanted to pass along the facts so that those reading his letter would not rest until they "had done something to alleviate their situation."

Kol Nidre at the Munich Opera House September 16, 1945

On September 16, 1945 Klausner gave a an extremely moving Kol Nidre speech at the Munich Opera House. According to Erich Maier, a representative of the World Jewish Congress, the hall was packed to capacity with American Jewish soldiers and a few Jewish civilians when Klausner took to the podium:

"Before him, he had a table with something covered under a white cloth. He spoke about the suffering of our people, especially the of those placed in the US Army camps for displaced persons. But then, Klausner removed the cloth from the table and showed his audience the food the Jews in the camps...

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