West Hempstead synagogue holds annual Veterans Shabbat


U.S. Army veterans Gary Glick and Jack Holtzman, both Jewish-Americans, travel locally and nationally to speak other veterans about the benefits they are entitled to. Through their educational programs, both realized that most veterans are unaware of the financial benefits and opportunities that are available to them. Both veterans spoke about the importance of veterans receiving benefits during the annual Veterans Shabbat at Congregation Shaaray Shalom in West Hempstead on Nov. 9.

“I always tell people that I missed 40 years of my life by becoming a veteran,” Glick said. “I know how difficult it can be for veterans when they come home. That’s why we go around to spread the word about benefits for veterans.”

Glick, 74, of Bellmore, who is an advocate for the Nassau County Veterans Service Agency, said that working with the Jewish War Veterans has given him a new zest for life. During the event, he also spoke about his experience of being Jewish American in the U.S. Army.

“I served along all sorts of people in the army,” Glick said. “What many don’t realize is that we all have one thing in common. It’s that we bleed one color: red.”

Holtzman, 75, of North Bellmore, who has worked to support veterans for more than three decades, said that Veterans Day is a chance for servicemen and women to get the recognition they deserve. “As a Vietnam veteran, we didn’t get a thank you when we came home, and neither did the Korean War veterans,” Holtzman said. “But now people are starting to wake up after 45 years, and we appreciate that.”

Shaaray Shalom congregant Edward Freedberg, who helped to organize the Veterans Shabbat, was amazed by their extensive résumé. “It’s just amazing to see how selfless these two are and to see how much of the time they give to serve their communities,” Freedberg said.

The Jewish War Veterans is one of the oldest veterans organizations in the U.S., according to Rabbi Art Vernon, of Congregation Shaaray Shalom. “Jews have always served in the armed forces of our nation with honor and with pride with great courage and determination,” he said.

Helene Fastman, past president of Congregation Shaaray Shalom said that she has several people in her family that served the U.S. military. She said that it is more important now than ever to support all veterans.

“Not a lot people realize that a lot of our veterans who enlist are teenagers,” Fastman said. “They go in as kids and they come out as grown men and women. It’s a hard way to grow up. They don’t come back the same so that’s why we need to do to do what we can to help them.”