Unlike­ly War­rior: A Paci­fist Rab­bi’s Jour­ney from the Pul­pit to Iwo Jim

  • From the Publisher
May 19, 2015

A bril­liant stu­dent, ora­to, and debater, Rab­bi Roland Git­tel­sohn was an out­spo­ken social activist and fre­quent lec­tur­er on polit­i­cal top­ics. Despite his pas­sion­ate sup­port of paci­fism, Git­tel­sohn vol­un­tar­i­ly joined the Navy when the Unit­ed States entered World War II, becom­ing the first Jew­ish chap­lain assigned to the Unit­ed States Marine Corps. In Unlike­ly War­rior: A Paci­fist Rabbi’s Jour­ney from the Pul­pit to the Sands of Iwo Jima, author Lee Man­del draws from his­tor­i­cal sources, includ­ing Gittelsohn’s 1988 auto­bi­og­ra­phy, exten­sive per­son­al papers, and the rabbi’s unpub­lished war mem­oir. Man­del traces the Git­tel­sohn fam­i­ly from their emi­gra­tion from Rus­sia through Roland’s ordi­na­tion and excur­sions into the polit­i­cal and Zion­ist move­ments that shaped the 1930s, and chron­i­cles the evo­lu­tion of Gittelshon’s cri­sis of con­science. After Iwo Jima, at the ded­i­ca­tion of the Fifth Marine Divi­sion Ceme­tery Git­tel­sohn deliv­ered the eulo­gy known as The Purest Democ­ra­cy” that is referred to as the Get­tys­burg Address of WWII.” The author reveals the behind-the-scenes anti-Semit­ic pow­er strug­gles that almost pre­vent­ed what has become one of the most famous ora­to­ries in mil­i­tary history.

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