Monday, December 28, 2015

Fighting, Patriotic Jews

This is the story of Jules Lassner, 92, a Jewish American who served America as a marine.

It's a wonderful story, may he rest in peace. 

He shipped out to the Pacific with the words of his Bar Mitzvah rabbi still ringing in his ears: “Whatever you do, always put on tefillin.”

"And Jules Lassner did just that throughout his service in the Marine Corps during World War II, and in the decades that followed. The routine of civilian life fades fast in the blood and mess of war, but Lassner, who passed away on Nov. 27 at age 92, never missed putting on tefillin, despite the difficulties."

"In June of 1944 Lassner took part in an amphibious assault on the island of Saipan. Almost immediately after landing and taking the beachhead his unit found itself under heavy artillery fire from the Japanese. They quickly dug foxholes, strapped their helmets on, placed their packs over their heads and held on tightly for nearly 24 hours of bombardment."

"At some point Lassner, a demolitions and munitions expert, felt his backpack take a hit. When the U.S. Air Force finally neutralized the enemy, he climbed out and looked around. To his right and left lay his dead comrades; his pack was blown to smithereens. Only three of his personal possessions had survived: His tefillin, his tehillim and his siddur."

In terms of his personality, I thought this part was very inspiring and revealing. I know a select number of individuals who also have this capacity, for really listening. It's not just a skill, it's a real blessing:  

"He was genuinely interested in people and always made them feel he had time for them. He was the best listener I have ever known,” says Rohr. 

“At Orach Chaim, the first stop for most on Shabbos or Yom Tov was to go over to greet Jules. And that wasn’t just when he became an older man; people showed their respect and affection for him that way 30 years ago, too.”

Rohr says that observing Lassner’s faith in G‑d was in itself an education for many.

He was a tough Marine who had seen all sorts of things, and his private prayer was like no other,” Rohr recalls. 

It inspired anyone who had the privilege of seeing him in synagogue.”