Jewish Youth At The Service Academies

The US Service Academies are committed to diversity and offering American youth an exceptional education and life-experience, while preparing them to serve and lead in our country’s behalf. And I know this from personal experience, as I will relate later.

My friend, COL(Ret) Pete Gleichenhaus, West Point Class of 1961, provided the video above, which demonstrates the positive experience of the Jewish cadets at West Point. And of course, it is not just at West Point. In 1997, our son, Mark, was accepted for admittance by both West Point and Annapolis. I hoped he would select West Point. My thought process was admittedly parochial--I had just spent 30 years in the Army, knew West Point already had a Jewish Chapel, and I thought the Navy a bit stodgy, conservative, and perhaps more likely to present a less than fully welcoming environment for a Jewish Midshipman.

Nonetheless, Mark chose Annapolis because he wanted to pursue aviation and thought he had a broader opportunity to fly in the Navy versus the Army. Once admitted, he joined the Jewish Chapel. I asked, often, perhaps a bit too often, during his Plebe Summer, if his being Jewish was problematic. Mark finally put an end to that line of questioning by informing me, respectfully but somewhat exasperated, that other than I, no one else was concerned with his being Jewish.

It would be disingenuous of me not to acknowledge that in the past, there were reports of Jewish cadets at the Air Force Academy being subjected to unwanted proselytizing, but it appears that situation has been remedied.

All in all, I would offer that Jewish parents can be secure in the thought that their children will be welcome at the Service Academies, and find there a challenging and rewarding experience as Jewish cadets.

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