A Jewish prayer book, carried into World War II 60 years ago by a Jewish soldier, will be sent to a University of Cincinnati alum who is serving with the Ohio National Guard. Rabbi Abie Ingber, executive director of the UC Hillel Jewish Student Center, initially planned to ship the prayer book to Scott Kravetz. But now a Cincinnati family will personally deliver the precious package.
Kravetz, a 1988 UC grad and board member for the UC Hillel Jewish Student Center, has been called to Fort Bliss, Texas.
Ingber says Kravetz is a captain for the 2-174 Avenger Missile Artillery Battalion. He remembers Kravetz when, as a student and a member of the UC ROTC, Kravetz would wear his Army fatigues when he visited the UC Hillel Jewish Student Center.
The pocket-sized prayer book, written in Hebrew and English and published in 1943, has a cover made of iron and is engraved with the words, “May the Lord be with you.”
“The book was to be carried in the left breast pocket. The iron cover protected the soldier from gunfire,” Ingber explained. He adds the book holds a specific prayer for soldiers and sailors who were called to fight the Nazis.
“Our enemies, through their evil strength, desire to put in darkness all the world, to rule according to their own will, and to destroy the foundations of civilization; to abolish our faith in one God and His teachings,” Ingber reads from the prayer book. “Isn’t it amazing how current events parallel those of 60 years ago?
“There was a soldier who carried this prayer book into battle in 1943, and he was one of the soldiers who liberated my parents.”
Ingber was contacted by Terri Faulkner, who after seeing a television report about the prayer book, offered to deliver it personally to Kravitz. Faulkner and her daughter Lauren are traveling to Fort Bliss March 21 to visit Lauren's boyfriend, PFC John Buschle, a Sycamore high school grad who is also stationed with Kravetz.
"I explained to them a Jewish tradition," said Inger, "that a person serving as a messenger in a good deed is truly protected."
Ingber says he asked Kravetz to carry the prayer book—60 years after it was first carried into World War II—on one condition: that Kravetz bring himself home safely and return the prayer book to Ingber.
“Here at UC, we link our history and traditions and artifacts in education and their preservation to the young people at this university. Now we have young people representing our country in a very dangerous situation. Our prayers need to be with them, and in this case, one of our UC alums will carry a sheltering prayer book that held up to the Nazi threat of the world community."
Kravetz contacted Ingber on March 21 and said he'll be sending the Faulkners back to Cincinnati with a gift for Ingber, but he won't know what it is until he receives it.