No Jew Has Ever Won The Medal Of Honor

Returning from work one day, my wife wanted to tell me about one of her customers. He shops at the jewelry store she works at, coming in a couple of times a month. Way led to way and it came out that her husband was a Marine, and Jewish. Apparently this man had never met a Jew before, let alone a Jewish Marine. He HAD to meet me, she said. Could I show up one day for lunch? He’d buy! After a little prodding from my wife, I was up for once again being the duty Jew. (To steal a term from CAPT Block).

A few days later I found myself eating lunch at a deli a few stores down from where my wife works. The gentlemen in question was an older fellow, lived by himself, a little eccentric but in the end genuine. He wasn’t interested in converting me to Christianity or saving my soul, he just wanted to know more about Jews. Having never met a Jew before, his only knowledge came from stereotypes.

Why are you all so rich and successful? He asked.

I tried to explain about how the religion values education. I may have thrown in something about the fact that being persecuted again and again, from Ancient Rome to the Third Reich leaves the survivors with wits and a bias for action.

Why are so many of you doctors and lawyers?

A philosophical discussion on the religion being based on making the world a better place and the plethora of rules we layer our religion in. And did I mention we value education.

How many Jews are in the Marines.

I’m going to go with about 1 in 100. But in my father’s time there was a disproportionate number of Jews in the military. (Hey there’s a good discussion on Jews In Green about this – but this conversation happened before JIG.)

But Jews can’t fight. I mean, come on.

Tell that to the millions of Arabs who tried to push the Israelis into the sea time and time again only to have their butts kicked.

The conversation went on, repeating many of the same questions I’ve come to expect from non-Jews.

But no Jew has ever won the Medal of Honor.

Blink. Blink. I was stumped. Surely, Jews have won the Medal of Honor. But I didn’t know any off-hand. Not one to argue without the facts, I demurred, You know, I can’t say whether you’re right. Jews have a long and storied history of fighting for this country. I can’t believe a Jew has never won the Medal of Honor. But I can’t give you an example.

He had me, I think you’ll find I’m right – no Jew has ever won the Medal of Honor. He smiled at me smugly.

Lunch came to an end before long and the first thing I did when I got home was to google Jewish Medal of Honor winners. I found a great website, aptly titled Jewish Recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, run by Seymour Sy Brody off of a Florida Atlantic University server.

  • Six in the Civil War. (The Medal of Honor was created during the Civil War)
  • Two in the Indian Wars.
  • One in the Haitian Campaign.
  • Three in World War I.
  • Three in World War II.
  • Now one in Korea
  • Two in Vietnam.

And that’s just those we know for sure. Many Jews, especially during earlier wars, probably did not let on that they were in fact Jewish.

As we are all aware, the actual name of the medal is The Medal of Honor. It’s incorrectly referred to as The Congressional Medal of Honor because Congress must award it. But forgiving the discrepancy, the website is fantastic. I printed out all 17 Medal of Honor citations and sent them with my wife to deliver the next time she saw the gentleman who believed otherwise.

My Judaism For Dummies book says this counts as Torah Study, and so I share this website and knowledge with you for the next time you are the duty Jew.

– Taiyas


  • Great story, thanks for posting it!

  • Bobbi Campbell

    HI, you know someone said a similar thing to me once about the Victoria Cross and he was surpeised i was in the britsh Army as “there are no Jews in the british Army…” type accusation. After a little research i discovered Leonard Keysor VC an Australian, Frank De Pass VC, Issy Smith VC (WW1 recipient whos name was Shmulevitch but the Tommys of WW1 couldnt pronounce that so it was changed to Smith), Tommy Gould VC, CG Anderson VC, John Kenneally VC, Captain Robert Gee VC, Private J White (Weiss), Arthur Aaron VC, and they are just the ones i could find out about. Makes me proud to be Jewish and British! Something for me to think about in Iraq next week!

  • Hi.

    I enjoyed reading your article on “…Medal of Honor” Please let me state a few facts:

    CG Anderson, John Kenneally and Arthur Aaron – all VC winners, were not Jewish – Halachically.

    As a military historian and vice president of the

    Victorian Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and

    Women (Australia), I have made an extensive search

    of above 3 and discovered Aaaron, VC, DFM, had a

    Jewish father only. However, Bobbi Campbell should be applauded for writing in.

    Sincerely, Ben Hirsh

  • Good one Bob, keep flying the flag. Ben Hirsh is correct. Also Tommy Gould’s father only was Jewish but he lived and was buried a Christian. He always identified himself as jewish and was a life vice president of the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen. Sgt Major Kennealy was the illegitimate son of an eminent Manchester textile merchant, Neville Blond, who was married into the Marks & Spencer Dynasty and who later became Chairman of the English Theatre Company. Kenneally was quite open about his Jewish heritage.

    Flt Sgt Aarons also identified as Jewish although halchically he wasn’t – he joined the RAF after serving in 319 (Broughton) Jewish Squadron Air Training Corps in Manchester.

  • bobbi campbell

    Thanks for the updates but i wasnt referring to people that would satisfy a rabbinincal court, merely people that either were generally accepted as Jews or identified themselves as Jews. On that note, Eisenhower had in his West Point yearbook “This is Senor Dwight Davis Eisenhower, the terrible Swedish-Jew and twice as natural.” but i dont think anyone really thought of him a genuinely Jewish. Just like in the main article to which i responded, it is generally belived that Jews cannot fight and have not really served. More worryingly, in Great Britain the Jewish community itself has a hard time believing that there are Jews in the British Forces and an even harder time accepteing that they serve in Her Majasties most elite fighting units. I was merely pointing out that Jews (or those of Jewish origin) have always served loyally to the crown including those that were awarded the highest of honours.

  • GM1(SW/SCW) Peter M. Michelson (Pincus Mendel)

    Shalom All:

    I hope everyone has had a Heathy and Happy Pesach in these time of uncertainity. I know personnelly how arer bothers and sister jewish service men and women are feeling and practicing because I to have been their. In your above article you stated the question ” how many Jewish marines are there?” I would like to suggest that you email U.S. Navy Jewish Chaplin CDR. Irving Elson at the New Commador Levy Chapel at U.S. Naval Academy. Nick Named The Rabbi of the Golden Triangle. When it comes to Naval Chaplins deployed oversea in harms way He is the Rabbi who knows.

    Shalom to all and as we Gunnersmates say “Keep your powder dry”


    GM1(SW/SCW) Peter M. Michelson (Pincus Mendel)

  • Watch this space Bob. And I though that mosts paras did their fighting in Aldershot on a Staurday night!

    By the time we’ve finished our recently implemented PR execercise the UK Jewish Community will be only too well aware of the Jewish personnel serving in HM Forces. In between the two world wars Jews served in numbers exceeding the national average. And it wasn’t just VCs. The total number of (MCs, MMs, AFCs, etc)decorations was outstanding.

    We now need to convince our ‘not declared’ colleagues to come out of the woodwork and admit that they are Jewish – it’s starting to happen. The Jewish Chronicle is just waiting for the next Campbell story!!!!

  • Leenie,

    I can’t find a way to contact you through the website. You wanted to use parts of what I wrote in this article for your Rosh Hashanah cards. Of course you have my permission.


  • martin sugarman

    Can whoever claims that Charles G Anderson who won the VC in WW1, is Jewish, please contact me urgently?

    Martin Sugarman

    tel London time after 7pm 0208 986 4868

  • I received a note asking that Captain Robert Gee be removed as a Jewish recipient of the Victorian Cross.

    A little research revealed that he and his award-winning actions were listed in the American Jewish Yearbook 5680. Link here (LARGE PDF). Also, in 1953, 7 years prior to his passing, Captain Gee participated in the dedication of a memorial to Western Australian Jewish war dead of World War II.

    Without additional information to the contrary, I believe it is proper to continue to list Captain Robert Gee as a Jewish recipient of the Victorian Cross.

  • Captain Robert Gee VC (Royal Fusiliers)appears in the WW1 Jewish Book of Honour compiled by Chief Rabbi Adler (former senior Jewish Chaplain)from records of the Jewish chaplains. I think you can safely say he was Jewish. He certainly led a parade of Jewish ex-servicemen to the Australian War memorial in King’s park, London.

  • Reference Capt Robert Gee VC, you might like to check this out with the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen’s museum in London. Contact is Martin Sugarman – his email address is at serial 9 above. I suspect they will confirm that he was Jewish

  • Sorry – correction to above – Capt Gee led a parade of Jewish Ex-servicemen at a service at the South African War Memorial at King’s Park, Pert W. Australia (not London) in 1953.

  • GMC(SW/SCW) Peter M Michelson

    Shalom All:

    I just found the webpage. its pretty impressive for a small # of Honorable Menchs.


    GMC(SW/SCW) Peter M Michelson





  • I can’t believe no Jewish person has ever won the medal of honor…that’s just messed up. I’m sure there was at least one deserving. My good buddy that works on this mmorpg community site is Jewish and I know him to be one of the bravest people I’ve ever known.

  • Zack,

    You obviously did not read the article. Take a look again. Many Jews have won the medal of honor.

  • One of the most famous is on TV all the time….Jack Jacobs.

  • Richard Sloan

    In the mid-90s, there was an Air Force Chief of Staff named Fogelman, if I recall. I don’t know if he was of Jewish religion or Jewish descent. But with that name, there was probably a Jewish connection.

    Also, the Marine Corps Assistant Commandant, General Magnus, is Jewish. There was a Jewish Marine who won the Medal of Honor in Haiti in 1915, although I forget his name. I saw a list of known Jewish Medal of Honor recipients on the Internet last summer – there were 35 of them!

    I understand that Admiral Boorda, the former Chief of Naval Operations who killed himself was Jewish )maybe not the best example, but even so!

  • Richard Sloan

    Also. re: Navy Cross,

    CPL. Lee Diamond on Guadalcanal, the Assistant Machine Gunner for Sgt. Al Schmid, The Pride of the Marines, was Jewish. See the movie, particularly when they leave the Naval Hospital.

    Also, General Krulewich, on Guadalcanal, the first American to capture Japanese prisoners, was Jewish.

    And Barney Ross, former boxing champion, won the Silver Star on Guadalcanal.

    And there 1500 Jewish Marines on Guadalcanal – take that, John Wayne!

  • Mitchel Libman

    Noticed all the confusion about Jews serving in the armed forces and the total misinformation about Jews and the Medal Of Honor.

    When I arrived home from the Korean War after it had ended I discovered a friend of mine, Pfc Leonard Kravitz, uncle of the entertainer Leonard Kravitz, was killed in action. He was a hero having saved the lives of two platoons of his comrades. They were ambushed by an over-whelming

    number of Chinese soldiers. their machine gunner was killed and Lenny took over his weapon. They were ordered to retreat since they were close to being overrun by the Chinese troops. Lenny refused to retreat and screamed for them to get out of there while they could. They kept screaming for him to grab his weapon and retreat but all they could hear was his weapon firing and Chinese troops falling all around them. they could hear small arms, grenades and mortars falling all around him. All the firepower was now directed at Lenny since he was killing so many of them. The next morning they went back to find him. He was lying over his machine gun, with only six bullets left in the weapon. There

    were innumerable dead Chinese all around including two in his embankment with him.

    It was determind that they all would have been wiped out if it weren’t for his action.

    Pfc Kravitz was nominated for the Medal Of Honor.

    That part should eliminate the idea that Jews don’t fight.

    Now for the part about no Jews receiving the Medal Of Honor. When I arrived home I learned about Lenny and the fact that he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. When I learned what he had done I thought it was very unusual not to have received the Medal Of Honor as a number of others had done for the same type of action.

    After checking I found he was originally nominated for the Medal Of Honor but it was downgraded at the Pentagon to the DSC. After checking further I discovered that was pretty normal procedure whenever a jew was recommended for the Medal Of Honor. I had Lenny’s Medal reviewed 3 times and each time it came back as “it was determined that the DSC was the proper award”. Finally a Congressman I had discussed this with wrote a Bill and named it after my friend. It was called “The Pfc Leonard Kravitz Jewish War Veterans Act of 2001”. It reads “Any Jew that was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal was to be reviewed to find out if the Medal Of Honor would have been the proper award. Since 2001 only one Jewish veteran has received his Medal Of Honor. Actually he was nominated for four seperate Medals Of Honor and three Distinguished Service crosses. He would have been the highest decorated veteran of the Korean War but he never was given those. Anyone that would like to read about him, his name is Tibor Rubin and still lives in California. There were 138 Jews that were on the list of those that received the DSC and from what I understand those that will get the Medal will be announced in the near future. I have very high hopes that my friend Pfc Leonard Kravitz will be one of them.

  • Fort Knox has one of the world’s premier Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) training sites, Zussman Village. The complex is named for 2LT Raymond Zussman, a Jewish Armor officer during WWII. I would like to see someone assert that jews can’t fight after reading his Medal of Honor citation:

    On 12 September 1944, 2d Lt. Zussman was in command of 2 tanks operating with an infantry company in the attack on enemy forces occupying the town of Noroy le Bourg, France. At 7 p.m., his command tank bogged down. Throughout the ensuing action, armed only with a carbine, he reconnoitered alone on foot far in advance of his remaining tank and the infantry. Returning only from time to time to designate targets, he directed the action of the tank and turned over to the infantry the numerous German soldiers he had caused to surrender. He located a road block and directed his tanks to destroy it. Fully exposed to fire from enemy positions only 50 yards distant, he stood by his tank directing its fire. Three Germans were killed and 8 surrendered. Again he walked before his tank, leading it against an enemy-held group of houses, machinegun and small arms fire kicking up dust at his feet. The tank fire broke the resistance and 20 enemy surrendered. Going forward again alone he passed an enemy-occupied house from which Germans fired on him and threw grenades in his path. After a brief fire fight, he signaled his tank to come up and fire on the house. Eleven German soldiers were killed and 15 surrendered. Going on alone, he disappeared around a street corner. The fire of his carbine could be heard and in a few minutes he reappeared driving 30 prisoners before him. Under 2d Lt. Zussman’s heroic and inspiring leadership, 18 enemy soldiers were killed and 92 captured.

  • This is fact, there have been 1600 silver star recipients of the total 60,000 who were Jewish this would represent 2%. If any body doesn’t know what the Silver star is, I will tell you its the third highest medal you can receive for bravery in the United States military.

  • martin sugarman

    Can someone please tell me about the Jewish background of Anderson VC, (Ww1) mentioend by one of your correspondents in a previOus e mail some months ago??

    Martin Sugarman (AJEX Musuem)

  • Richard Sloan

    Regarding my earlier comment:

    ‘And there 1500 Jewish Marines on Guadalcanal – take that, John Wayne’

    I meant to say Iwo Jima, not Guadalcanal. My other comments, re: Cpl Diamond, etc still stand.

  • bruce sinclair

    Whilst most of the facts outlined on this blog in relation to Capt Gee’s activities after the war are to my knowledge correct. One error is that Kings Park is in Perth Western Australia. There are some fundamental errors in relation to information regarding his religious faith.

    Whilst Captain Gee was a man who had a great affinity with people of the Jewish faith I can confirm with certainty that he was not of the Jewish faith. He also had great affinity with people of the Catholic and many other faiths and likewise was not part of their offical church. I understand that senior people in many faiths held him in very high regard. Capt Gee was my Grand Father

    Hope this information helps.

  • Mr. Martin Sugarman,

    Mt great uncle was Jack Sugerman of Media Pa. He killed 132 japaneese on Guadalcanal. He was awarded the Navy Cross. Do you have any information about him? Thank you

  • Mitchel Libman

    Please continue to notify me of any follow up comments about my story of Pfc Leonard Kravitz.

    I believe I canceled that option by accident

    Mitchel Libman

  • Roger Stryeski

    To Mr. Sloan

    the 1915 MH in Haiti was PVT Samuel Gross (Marguilles) from Penna.

  • To the editors of Jews in Green:

    I recommend changing the name of this article. The title of this article can be easily misunderstood by people who don’t know much about American Jewish military history (most people). Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, had a famous quote: “If you tell a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” We should not play into the hands of the ignorant and Antisemitic by repeating their lies. Obviously the original intent of the title of this article was as an “attention gainer” – I would offer that telling the truth is a better attention gainer. The current title does a disservice to the 20+ American Jewish servicemen (from all branches of service and all major conflicts since the Civil War) who earned the Medal of Honor through their courage and heroism. I recommend changing the name of this article to “Many Jews Have Won the Medal of Honor.”

  • David M. Penzel

    My late uncle, Leo Feinstein, of Brooklyn, NY, was a combat engineer in North Africa and a Ranger in Italy. He saw action at Kasserine, Sicily, Salerno, Anzio and Monte Cassino. He won the Silver Star for the rescue of a wounded man under fire. He also told me of being put in for a Bronze Star for his capture of a German machine gun and its crew. The paperwork apparently was lost. He single-handedly charged the gun and the gunners threw up their hands. This incident was documented in Stars and Stripes. He interrogated the prisoners, speaking Yiddish to them; they were horrified that they had surrendered to a Jew. He also remembered that they were a pretty ill-looking bunch, unlike my uncle, who was 6’2″, athletic, blue-eyed and blond.

  • Ellis A aperlswig, MD

    You have two biographical sketches in The Jewish Virtual Library on Aline Bernstein and Aline Bernstein Saarinen. Was there any relationship between these two Aline Bernsteins?

    Until I saw your articles, I assumed they were the same person and that Aline Bernstein like Alma Mahler had a series of famous lovers.

    Please let me know.

    Thank you.

  • Hi to all above,

    I am a great neice to Captain Robert Gee VC and have been doing extensive family research of the GEE’s and have found no indication that great Uncle Robert was Jewish by birth. I do understand that he served with many Jewish comrades during his campaigns and in 1944 he accepted the position of Vice President of the Western Australian Council of Jewish Affairs and in 1951 he was made a Life member and Patron of the Western Australian Jewish Ex-Servicemen’s Association – which I understand was an honorary title. Obviously he served his country well and had great respect and fellow feeling for all his comrades whatever their origins.

    • Madeline Phippen

      Hi Joy , saw your email and thought it worth a shot to ask. My fathers’s family of Gees from Northants are related to the |Gees. Robert even looks like my family descendents of gees.

      I have also been doing lots of research into the |Gee family and although i can find the link between the chafers and gees and the fact that Willie Chafer VC .
      My fathers father was William Thomas Gee 1889-1940 and his father was Thomas Gee 1861-27 who married Madeline Chafer 1860-1940.

      Madeline Chafer was the sister to Lucy who was the mother to Willie Chafer of Epworth VC.

      Do you know the link between your family and mine. My dad even met your great uncle before he left for Australia.

  • Great answers to those questions! It is surprising how ignorant people really are. Of course there were Jews who won the MOH. Of course there have been Jews who have fought in the Armed Forces of the U.S. throughout our history, in multiple wars and conflicts, protecting our nation and out rights. (Especially Freedom of Religion.) It concerns me that people really think this way. They probably also believe there were no women, blacks, Muslims, Asians, gays,etc. valiantly fighting for our country up until recently. Geez, some people really live in a box, don’t they?

  • To be very honest and human, and succumbing to stereotypes myself, I found it amusing and ironic that such an uninformed, non-Jew works in a delicatessen.

    The following comes from a non-Jewish vet (me):

    My hero is John Levitow. He was Jewish, or came from Jewish parentage. He earned the Medal of Honor in the USAF during the Viet Nam War. He later served in the VA to help other vets.

    I have posed the following question to both this site and “Jews in Green” and never have received an answer. Before I pose it please know that John Levitow is not only my hero, but a hero to many, and I have NO anti-semitic agenda whatsoever.

    Mr. Levitow’s headstone in Arlington National Cemetery bears a cross. Was he Jewish or not Jewish?

    Either way he is my hero, and a great man!

  • John Levitow was ethnically Jewish, described himself as Jewish and was a member of the Jewish War Veterans (JWV). Apparently his father was Jewish. I heard that his family decided to bury him under a cross, after much intra-family argument, and it wasn’t necessarily his wish to do so. Bottom line: He was Jewish.

  • Jim Steinberg

    The Jewish American Archives at The Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio has the actual Congressional Medal of Honor, awarded to a Jew during the Civil War, in it’s collection. Check it out.

  • Thanks Jim, It’s good to know that the Hebrew Union College finds it important. Too bad they apparently don’t feel it’s important to ask their graduating Rabbi’s to sign up to be chaplians now, during a time of war, when they are desperately needed. There is a severe shortage of Reform and Conservative rabbis in uniform now. Lately (in the last 5-6 years) it’s been mostly Orthodox rabbis coming in – although the vast majority of Jewish servicemen are not Orthodox.

  • The title of this article can be easily misunderstood by people who don’t know much about American Jewish military history – which is most people!! Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, had a famous quote: If you tell a lie often enough, it becomes the truth. We should not play into the hands of the ignorant and anti-semitic by repeating their lies!! Obviously the intent of the title of this article was to be an attention gainer or to bring attention to how ignorant people are. I would offer that telling the truth is a better attention gainer. The current title does a disservice to the 18+ American Jewish servicemen (from all branches of service and all major conflicts since the Civil War) who earned the Medal of Honor through their courage and heroism. I recommend changing the name of this article to Many Jews Have Won the Medal of Honor. Anybody with me on this?

  • massage new york

    The review in this post about is given in nice manner taking care of all the facts.Only to say thanks will not be adequate.I am looking forward to implement all the facts given here.

  • Samson,

    I didn’t originally commit this article to the blog, but from a perspective of search engine mechanics, it could actually draw anti-Semites to the facts. It’s a dual-purpose rhetorical flourish. My hope would be that some nincompoop links to it, saying, “see, even Jews say they’ve never won the Medal of Honor,” and then, OOPS, the article invalidates their preliterate supposition.

    Of course, even if one does shower them with the facts, they’ll just chalk the award up as a Zionist conspiracy.

  • Sgt Kresge,

    You’re giving them too much credit. We shouldn’t be concerned about what they think. Why can’t the TRUTH be the focus, instead of repeating lies which perpetuate anti-semitic stereotypes, for any reason.

  • To Tim Roberts, who says his great uncle was Jack Sugerman, who killed 132 Japanese on Guadalcanal, and who wants more information about him. Sorry to say, he is featured in the book I’m reading, “The Murder Room”, which alludes to his Guadalcanal service, but mainly focuses on his later years as a brutal, murdering criminal in Philadelphia.

  • First, and foremost, Medal of Honor recipients do not “win” the MOH–it is earned by actions above and beyond the call of duty. My hero is John Levitow. He earned the MOH during the Viet Nam War. John Levitow was a member of the USAF. He was a great man.

  • Frank Webster (Amateur Historian)

    I can confirm what Joy Gee and Bruce Sinclair say- Robert Gee VC was not Jewish. His parents married in a village called Anstey, in Leicestershire, in 1854. I believe that they were Methodists.