Based in New York, Shalom Lamm has an extensive real estate leadership background and has overseen a variety of successful property rehabilitation projects. One of the founders of Operation Benjamin, Shalom Lamm is part of an organization that recently coordinated successful efforts with the American Battle Monuments Commission in burying fallen Jewish American World War II soldiers under the Star of David.
The five service members honored at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in February 2020 served in the Pacific theater during the war. They included one who died of typhus, one who was a victim of enemy shell fire, and another who succumbed to a gunshot wound. In addition, two prisoners of war died of hardship and starvation within Japanese prison camps.
A common thread among these men was that they shared a strong sense of patriotism, as well as a robust Jewish faith, and gave their lives for principles of democracy and freedom. They were among a Jewish contingent that made up approximately 2.7 percent of the total number of soldiers who served in World War II. What Operation Benjamin’s research revealed was that only 1.5 percent of American WWII graves bore the Star of David.
With personal omission and clerical mistakes two major reasons why Jewish Americans might be buried under a Christian cross, the aim of Operation Benjamin is to ensure that this situation is rectified as much as possible. Coordinated with the American Battle Monuments Commission, the ceremony in the Philippines included a Mourner’s Kaddish recitation and provided a sense of closure to the families of the deceased.
It represents just one part of an ongoing process that requires ample proof to be provided of each soldier’s Jewish identity before the renaming ceremony.