Judah Nadich; Rabbi Advised Eisenhower in Europe

Associated Press
Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Judah Nadich, 95, a military chaplain who advised Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower on Jewish affairs after the discovery of Nazi concentration camps in the last months of World War II, died Aug. 26 at his home in New York after a heart attack.

In addition to his military service, Rabbi Nadich was noted as an early supporter of the civil rights movement. He also advocated equality for women in Jewish religious ceremonies, including their ordination as rabbis.

Rabbi Nadich was born in Baltimore on May 13, 1912, the eldest of four children of Russian immigrants. As a Conservative rabbi, he served congregations in Buffalo and Chicago before joining the U.S. Army as a chaplain in 1942.

He was the Army's senior Jewish chaplain in Europe in April 1945 as advancing U.S. and British forces liberated Nazi concentration camps in Germany.

Eisenhower, the commander of Allied forces in Western Europe, named Rabbi Nadich to offer advice on how to cope with hundreds of thousands of displaced persons being kept in military custody in squalid conditions little better than the camps they had survived.

In a 1953 book, "Eisenhower and the Jews," Rabbi Nadich wrote that he and others persuaded the Allied command to abandon a policy requiring the displaced to be returned to their home countries.

By August 1945, he wrote, the basis was laid "for a new American policy toward Jewish displaced persons and for an entirely new attitude toward them" that would eventually be implemented at lower levels.

Rabbi Nadich became rabbi of New York's Park Avenue Synagogue in 1957, a post he held until his retirement in 1987. In a sermon in 1960, he spoke out against racial segregation, saying that "freedom is colorblind" and that it was a "sacred obligation" to help all who seek it.

In 1974, he urged the Rabbinical Assembly, an international association of Conservative rabbis of which he was then president, to give "careful consideration" to allowing women to become rabbis. The first female rabbi was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1985.

Survivors include his wife, Martha Nadich; three daughters; a sister; and eight grandchildren.

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