Suffolk author to speak about a rabbi’s journey in WWII

by | Dec 18, 2015 | What’s Happening

Sunday, Jan. 24, 2 pm, Temple Sinai in Newport News

Lee Mandel, author of Unlikely Warrior: A Pacifist Rabbi’s Journey from the Pulpit to Iwo Jima will speak about his book at Temple Sinai in Newport News.

Unlikely Warrior is the story of Rabbi Roland Gittelsohn, who as a student embraced total pacifism. After his ordination and once he obtained his first pulpit, Gittelsohn continued to preach passionately on the futility of war. He continued to do so through the 1930s, even while fervently denouncing the rise of Nazism in Europe.

But Gittelsohn’s viewpoint changed in 1941 after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He volunteered for military service and became the first Jewish chaplain attached to the U.S. Marine Corps. In this capacity, he witnessed the bloody battle for Iwo Jima, winning three service ribbons. At the dedication of the Fifth Marine Division Cemetery, he made one of the most famous speeches in military history, extolling the “highest and purest democracy,” represented by the dead of all religions and races.

Lee Mandel is a retired Captain in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps. During his naval career, he has been on the staff of four navy hospitals and served twice as a staff internist at the Office of the Attending Physician, United States Congress. In addition, he served as senior medical officer on three U.S. Navy aircraft carriers. He retired from the United States Navy in June 2013.

Mandel is an avid writer and historian, and has lectured at Old Dominion University, Stonybrook Medical Center, Tidewater Community College, and Eastern Virginia Medical School. He has published in numerous journals both in medicine and history. As a result of his research on the health history of President John F. Kennedy, he has appeared twice on the History Channel. His first book was Moryak: A Novel of the Russian Revolution. Mandel lives in Suffolk, with his wife Ann.

Mandel’s appearance is made possible by the Jewish Book Council.

For more information, call Temple Sinai at 757-596-8352 or visit