The Jewish War Veterans of America was organized in 1896 to counter claims that Jewish Americans had not participated in the Civil War. Though their activities increased after WWI, their expansion first came in the 1930s (PDF source). Pittsburgh’s chapter was founded in 1933.
There was a Homestead Jewish Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Welfare League around the time of WWI. On 7/12/1918 they helped to organize an elaborate banquet and reception in honor of the returning soldiers and sailors, and on 9/21/1919 they dedicated a plaque. 1 It seems like this group’s members were not members of the armed forces, but older adults; evidence of such groups elsewhere suggests that it may have been an offshoot of the I.O.B.B.
On December 14, 1945, The Jewish Criterion reported, “On the initiative of Rabbi Joshua S. Weiss a Jewish War Veterans Post [in Homestead] is being organized. A meeting of all discharged men from the service will be held on Wednesday, December 19, at 8 o’clock in the synagogue.” The Jewish War Veterans of the USA kindly sent me the charter application for Post No. 412. Dated January 23, 1946, it listed founding members:
- Charles Seiavitch
- Paul Carpe
- Saul Cohen
- Herbert Burechson
- Sidney Feldman (Pittsburgh)
- Carl Fischman
- Robert Freed
- Milton Greenstein
- Marvin Hadburg (Pittsburgh)
- Sam. Jacobson (Pittsburgh)
- Herbert Lang
- Morris Lefkowitz
- Harold Mermelstein (Pittsburgh)
- Albert Schwartz (Hazelwood)
- Rudolph Weiss
- Albert Schwadron
- Arthur Lipscher (Duquesne)
Note that they all lived in Homestead/West Homestead/Munhall except where indicated.
The group elected its first officers in March 1946 and installed them on June 30 in the synagogue as part of a larger synagogue event to “welcome home the Jewish men and women who returned from the service.” (The synagogue minutes admit that “a poor showing for the affair was reported.”2 They sponsored a Purim Ball on March 17 with proceeds to go towards the erection of a memorial plaque and a summer dance on June 27, with proceeds “to be used in a building fund” (?!). Their fundraising efforts came to fruition in 1948 when, “As a gesture of gratitude to the Jewish Youth of the vicinity who saw service in World War II, the Homestead Jewish community has purchased a bronze plaque bearing their names” (The Jewish Criterion, 4/2/1948).
They were involved in the community in other ways, too. In 1946 some of their members volunteered to be instructors in the synagogue’s religious school (the synagogue minutes reported that they were “doing a remarkable job which is appreciated by the Congregation”3, and in 1949 they participated in a joint Memorial Day Service at the cemetery with the Melvin Frank Lodge. They participated in Pittsburgh-wide JWV efforts as well. In 1947 the synagogue tried to do its own membership drive amongst veterans to get more of them to join the shul.
I haven’t seen any mentions of this group after 1950.