Close this search box.

US ArmyDismisses Soldier Who Assaulted Jewish Trainee

us soldier.jpgThe Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has commended the U.S. Army for acting decisively to punish a Fort Benning recruit who assaulted Pvt. Michael Handman in a barracks laundry room last month. The Army announced that the soldier was “punished under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and administratively separated for misconduct.”

ADL worked with the Army to resolve two incidents involving Handman (reported HERE on YWN). First, he was the subject of anti-Semitic taunts by two drill sergeants who forced him to remove his yarmulke during dinner in a Fort Benning dining hall. The drill sergeants were reprimanded, sent to a program that teaches respect for diversity and will now teach the lessons of that program to other soldiers. In the other incident, Handman was attacked and sent to the hospital with a concussion.

News of the termination came yesterday, when ADL Southeast Regional Director Bill Nigut attended a series of meetings with Army officials at Fort Benning. The meetings included the Army’s Chief of Chaplains Major General Douglas Carver, Senior Army Rabbi Jacob Goldstein, and Col. Chuck Durr, Fort Benning Chief of Staff.

“ADL’s top concern in dealing with the Handman case has been to make sure the Army sends a strong message that they will punish acts of bigotry and bullying severely,” said Mr. Nigut. “We applaud them for terminating the recruit who attacked Pvt. Handman and for disciplining the two drill sergeants who taunted him.”

Army officials insist that their investigation showed that the attack was not related to Handman’s religion. ADL continues to believe that the previous anti-Semitic slurs directed at Handman may have singled him out for the beating.

Mr. Nigut said that the meetings at Fort Benning yesterday were a good opportunity to discuss how Fort Benning officials can improve efforts to promote respect for religious diversity. “It was gratifying to learn that Rabbi Goldstein has spent two days at Fort Benning assessing the climate for Jewish soldiers there and that he plans to develop a set of recommendations for giving soldiers at the base a better sense of Jewish religious practices and customs.”

Army officials reported that Pvt. Handman continues to be housed in a secure location at Fort Benning. He was moved to that facility after ADL expressed its concerns for Handman’s safety after the attack.

(Dov Gordon – YWN NYC)

7 Responses

  1. From what I heard, incidents such as these are very rare, and the real issue we have with the army is that the conduct of training and garrison duties (which unlike combat, don’t raise issues of “pikuach nefesh”) make it virtually impossible for anyone who is truely Shomer Shabbos and Shomer Kashruth to serve in the uniformed services.

  2. Knowing the deluge of comments that are going to come about a Jew being in the Army, I’d like to paraphrase I comment I made on the initial post about the attack:

    On my own note, I feel that I should make things clear. I have never, ever, been discriminated against in any way. In fact, I’ve been treated with only the utmost respect with regards to anything from having to miss training due to Shabbos/Yom Tov to not sitting between two girls. All the others have treated me absolutely no different than anyone else, except for the occasional question about why I do/don’t do certain things.

    Besides for that, everyone, from my fellow cadets to my Flight Commander to the Detachment Commander has treated me perfectly fine, and I can say personally that you simply cannot make one remark for everyone. Some Commanders may know more than others, but if every Jew knew what (s)he’s entitled to under the DOD’s Religious Accommodations Act, (which I can point anyone to who e-mails me at [email protected]), these things wouldn’t happen as often.


    Cadet Chaim Shmuel, U.S. Air Force

  3. Firstly Chaim, you are an Air Force Cadet at the Air Force Academy right? Two or three years ago the Air Force Academy had problems concerning Jews and other non-Christians being pressured into converting to that religion. Which is why you are experiencing such tolerance, not to mention the fact that the Senior Air Force Rabbi was consulted to help resolve those issues.

    Secondly you’re only a Cadet, which will translate into inexperienced OFFICER. The soldier attacked was enlisted Army and probably an Infantryman; a completely different environment. Officers are treated differently than their enlisted counterparts; this was a Soldier in Basic Training.

    Being different makes you an outcast. Asking for Shabbos off can make people resent you, wearing a Yarmulke in an office can make people defensive about their own religious shortcomings. No one can control how they are treated. You and I may not have any religious accommodation issues but other Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines do every day, we are not there spokes people. I’ve been in the military for 5 years, I’ve had three incidents the entire period; but that doesn’t mean that other Jews don’t experience worse.

    The DOD only sets guidelines, which they have done wonderfully. What can you tell me when I ask for Yom Kippur off and you’re not able to give me off? Or if I say I can’t leave Iraq on Rosh Hashanah, is there any way I can get out earlier? You have yet to be there, the DOD says one thing repeatedly “Commanders should make every attempt to allow soldiers the ability to practice their respective religions.” That doesn’t mean they have to allow it, though it’s in their best interest. Most instructors and senior military personnel have no idea what their respective Branches say about religious accommodation. What service members, who are Jewish, should do is contact a Rabbi in the military if they experience any problems or go to the Equal Opportunity Office near them for help, not a Cadet who is still in College. That was the case in the above story. Anyone wanting information should contact the Aleph Institute or Jewish Welfare Board for a list of Rabbi’s in the military.

  4. If there is any military a Jew could serve in, it is the US military. If I would have had the opportunity to join the US military as an officer I would have grabbed it with both hands.

    The US military fights for the world’s freedom, democracy; protecting us in Eretz Yisroel from dangers ranging from al-Quaida to Saddam Hussein and also Iran (the only reason Iran doesn’t attack the Zionist state is their knowing that if they would do so, the US would step in).

    And as for those who are going to say that Jews shouldn’t be in the US military: they should be in the US military a whole lot more than in the Zionist military.

  5. I once again find myself in the position of replying to a topic that no one will probably see, but just in case I’ll check it every few days for a bit.

    I’m actually an ROTC cadet, and I’ve met the senior Rabbi and spoke with him for quite a bit. While there will, of course, be issues that might come up, like you said, if you know the regs and who to turn to, most things will come out ok. At the end, they have to justify that they really needed you for the sake of the mission, not the other way around. But J.S. if you could contact me through the e-mail address in my last comment, I’d greatly appreciate it.

  6. Chaim: You will learn that the ROTC is not quite the same as the military. Thankfully, you’re not at the USAFA where you are pretty much on duty 24/7. My Dad was stationed there and there isn’t much that is Jewish there and not much in the city, either. In fact, Colorado Springs has been called “the Vatican of the Christian Right.” I suggest that you look into the Jewish Soldiers Foundation and contact its founder, Joe Kashnow, a wounded Iraq War vet and a frum yid. He has some good suggestions for how to navigate being frum in the active duty military. I believe that their website is

  7. Jeremy: Joe Kashnow, the frum wounded Iraq veet I mentioned in my post to Chaim, says that keeping Shabbos and yom tov is not terribly difficult when stateside. Once deployed to Iraq, however, he knew that he would have to pull duty on Shabbos and Yom Tov and that was that. As for kashrus, he said that at the beginning of the war there was a shortage of kosher MREs (Meals Ready to Eat — sort of like the LaBriutte meals) in Iraq because many packages had been diverted to feed Afghani civilians who wouldn’t touch the regular MREs. He said that the situation has improved now, however.

Leave a Reply

Popular Posts