Seder Services for Passover for Soldiers in World War I

(Gas Attack of The New York Division/March 23, 1918) Seder services on Passover eve and the evening following, will be conducted for the benefit of the Jewish soldiers of Camp Wadsworth, both in camp and in Spartanburg, on March 27th and 28th. Benjamin S. Gross and Robert Bandes, field representatives of the Jewish Board for Welfare Work in the Twenty-seventh Army Division, announce that arrangements are being made for the accommodation of every man of the Jewish faith who may desire to attend this religious ceremony.

The War Department has issued orders applying to all military and naval encampments by virtue of which all Jewish soldiers will be excused from duties for forty-two hours. The Jewish Board for Welfare Work through its camp representatives, and in co-operation with the Spartanburg community, will provide means for every one who desires to celebrate this important festival in the traditional manner. Announcement will be made at an early date of the places where the Seders will be conducted and a system of registration will be provided, so that the Board may be informed of the numbers who will attend.

Our collection, America and World War I: American Military Camp Newspapers, addresses a topic and period that continues to be of the widest interest and importance to scholars, students, and the general public – America in the World War I Era. Camp newspapers make important original source material—much of it written by soldiers for soldiers—readily available for research.

Passover is one of the holiest of Jewish festivals. It is in commemoration of the exodus of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt under the leadership of Moses. As such, it marks the first revolt in history, and the first declaration of independence and the principles of democracy for which the Allies are now fighting.

The representatives of the Jewish Board for Welfare Work at Camp Wadsworth announce that the national offices of the Board have decided to erect in the camp a Jewish Welfare Building. The Executive Committee of this organization will meet shortly in New York City and determine upon the size and type of the structure.

The news will undoubtedly be received with welcome by the Jewish soldiers of Camp Wadsworth. Like the Y. M. C. A. and K. of C. units, the Welfare Building will be conducted upon a strictly non-sectarian basis, and all soldiers, regardless of religious affiliations, will be extended a cordial welcome at all times.

One of the most successful entertainments of the season was the Purim Ball given on the last Tuesday of February at the Elks’ Home in Spartanburg by the Jewish Board for Welfare Work and the Camp Wadsworth Maccabee Unit. About five hundred officers and men attended the dance, which continued until the midnight hour. The music for the occasion was furnished by the excellent orchestra of the 106th Infantry.

Jewish religious services are conducted every Friday evening for the soldiers of Camp Wadswotrh at Y. M. C. A. Unit 92, at 6:30, and at the Temple B’Nai Israel, Dean and Union streets, Spartanburg, at 8:15 o’clock. The services in the camp are orthodox, and those in the city are conservative.

Field Representatives Benjamin S. Gross and Robert Bandes of the Jewish Board for Welfare Work are desirous that all soldiers of Jewish faith attend these services and co-operate toward making them really representative of the large number of men in the camp. At an early date several speakers of note will deliver the sermons.

Image: “The First Passover Sedar Dinner” given by Jewish Welfare Board to men of Jewish Faith in the American Expeditionary Forces in order that they may observe the Passover Holidays. Paris, France in April 1919. (US National Archives)

All images included in blog posts are from either Accessible Archives collections or out of copyright public sources unless otherwise noted. Common sources include the Library of Congress, The Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and other public archives.

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