York Town Square

Part of the USAToday Network

York’s heroic WW II chaplain profiled in Philadelphia’s American Jewish History Museum

Philadelphia’s National Museum of American Jewish History offers a brief biography of former York, Pa., Rabbi Alexander D. Goode, right. The U.S. government issued this stamp of the Four Chaplains after World War II. Goode and three other chaplains went down with the torpedoed Dorchester in the North Atlantic in 1943. Also of interest: Memorial honoring Jewish chaplains headed to Arlington, Va., via York, Pa., and Four Chaplains stamp has special history.

So I still hear from folks about the time that I spent part of a family vacation in prison.

That came after the five of us spent several hours touring the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, a museum well deserving of a visit –  on a vacation or not.

This prison visit was part of a family custom of taking in a Philadelphia site on the way back from the beach, Ocean City, N.J.

We did time in the penitentiary a couple of years ago, in which I asked around about York, Pa.’s Glenalvin Goodridge’s sentence there on trumped-up charges in the 1860s.

Last year, it was the African American Museum in Philadelphia, where I particularly enjoyed a presentation about poet/abolitionist Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, a former York, Pa., schoolteacher who wrote about the fugitives in York.

So you can see that one goal in going to these wonderful museums in to find a York County angle.

This year, the back-from-the-ocean trip brought us to the National Museum of American Jewish History.

That ambitious museum lives up to its name, covering Jewish history in America – not just Philly or Pennsylvania.

You start at the top – five stories up – and work your way down.

And it was on the street level that I found York’s connection, the story of Alexander D. Goode, a military hero in World War II, in the museum’s Only in America Hall of Fame.

A poll of sorts appeared with his bio. If there were enough votes cast in support, the museum would present a multimedia presentation on Rabbi Goode. He got my vote.

I cast around this exhibit for other York County angles, particularly for info about Shinah Etting.

She was an 18th-century York countian who later moved to Baltimore, where she became a matriarch in a well-known family of public servants.

No bites there.

But all this is just a particular. The museum comprehensively told an important American story.

Next year’s museum? There are still plenty of options.

So there’s little chance we’ll make a return trip to prison.


Also of interest
“The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats” is a special exhibit at the museum through Oct. 20. The museum’s website bills it as the first major exhibition to pay tribute to Ezra Jack Keats (1916–1983). His popular children’s books include Whistle for Willie, Peter’s Chair, and The Snowy Day.

Also of interest: Chai Road Tour provides insight into Jewish life in Downtown York