Normandy Cruise Faculty

In addition to a number of local historians and guides that will be with us in each city, we are pleased to announce that we will be adding the expertise of the following guests and entertainers to enhance your cruise and educational experience! 

Dr. Henry M. Abramson

 Dean Touro College 

Dr. Henry Abramson is a scholar known for his sophisticated yet accessible lectures on Jewish history, watched by thousands of viewers daily on YouTube. The author of seven books on Jewish history and thought, he earned his PhD from the University of Toronto and held visiting and post-doctoral positions at Harvard, Cornell, Oxford and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His teaching has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Excellence in the Academy Award from the National Education Association, and his research has been supported by awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada, and many others. He has addressed popular and scholarly audiences around the world, and his work has been translated into several languages. He currently serves as Dean at the mighty Avenue J campus of Touro College in Brooklyn, NY. 

He has lectured widely on many topics and periods in Jewish history, including studies relevant to the history of the Jews of Spain of Portugal and their diaspora after the expulsions of the late 15th century.

Rabbi Irv Elson, CAPT, USN (Ret)| Vice-President

Director, JWB Jewish Chaplains Council

Rabbi Irving A. Elson was born in Mexico City, Mexico, in 1960. He was educated at Yeshiva University in New York, and earned his AA and BA in 1982, majoring in Psychology and Jewish Studies. He entered a Masters program at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York, and was awarded an MA in Hebrew Literature in 1984. During this time, he also spent a year of postgraduate study at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem from 1983-1984. The Jewish Theological Seminary of America ordained him a rabbi in 1987.

Commissioned an Ensign in the Naval Reserve in 1982, Chaplain Elson came on active duty in June of 1987. His assignments were as follows: Marine Corps Base, Camp S. D. Butler ( III MEF), Okinawa, Japan; Naval Station Charleston, S. C.; COMSIXTHFLT, Gaeta, Italy; Naval Education and Training Center, Newport, R. I.; Naval Recruiting Command, Area ONE, Scotia, NY; and as Staff Chaplain at the United States Naval Academy.

In August of 2002, Chaplain Elson reported for duty with the I Marine Expeditionary Force. In January of 2003, Rabbi Elson deployed to Kuwait and eventually Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom as Jewish Chaplain for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. As the only Jewish Chaplain serving with Marines in Iraq, and chaplain for 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, Rabbi Elson participated in numerous combat engagements throughout the conflict. Rabbi Elson returned to Iraq in September of 2004 where he served as Jewish Chaplain for IMEF during the Battle for Fallujah.

In June of 2005,Rabbi Elson became the Deputy Command Chaplain at the US Naval Academy. Rabbi Elson was selected for promotion to Captain in May of 2006. In July of 2007 he became the first Force Chaplain for Commander Naval Air Forces followed by an assignment in August of 2010 as Wing Chaplain, III Marine Aircraft Wing. Chaplain Elson returned to the I Marine Expeditionary Force as the Force Chaplain in November of 2012. During these last two tours, CAPT Elson made multiple deployments to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

In April of 2014 CAPT Elson was selected as Deputy Chaplain of the Marine Corps. Rabbi Elson retired from the Navy in December of 2016 after 35 years of faithful service.

DR. SHELDON A. GOLDBERG Ph.D., Lt Colonel, USAF (Ret.)

Historian/Docent at the National Museum of American-Jewish Military History in Washington DC

Dr. Sheldon A. Goldberg, Ph.D., Lt. Colonel, USAF (Ret), is the Historian/Docent at the National Museum of American-Jewish Military History in Washington DC. A native of Detroit MI, Dr. Goldberg enlisted in the US Air Force as a bandsman in 1956, serving as a clarinetist with the Strategic Air Command and the United States Air Forces in Europe, Command Bands until September 1960, when he was accepted to Air Force Officer Candidate School. Dr. Goldberg was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in March 1961 and received his wings as a navigator in January 1962. Following additional advanced navigator bombardier training, he was assigned to McChord AFB WA where he flew the C-124 and C-141 transport aircraft and received a BA in Political Science from the University of Puget Sound in 1967. That same year, he received an Air Force approved scholarship to the University of Wisconsin (Madison) where he earned an MA in International Relations. His next assignment was to George AFB CA where he trained as an F-4 Weapons Systems Officer, which was followed by an assignment to the 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron, the only night dedicated fighter squadron in the Air Force, stationed at Royal Thai AFB, Ubon, Thailand during the war in Southeast Asia. While there, then Captain Goldberg flew 217 combat missions, including three over North Vietnam, earning two Distinguished Flying Crosses for Valor and 17 Air Medals.

Upon his return from Southeast Asia in 1970, Dr. Goldberg was assigned to Cannon AFB NM where he flew the F-111 nuclear-capable fighter-bomber and was the chief of his squadron’s intelligence section. Eighteen months later, he was back in Europe on the first of three consecutive tours, first flying the F-111 at RAF Upper Heyford in the United Kingdom, followed by his next assignment was as the Air Force Advisor to the Commandant, Federal Republic of Germany’s Armed Forces General Staff College, Hamburg Germany, where he was promoted to Lt. Colonel. His third tour only required a short move to the Netherlands and Headquarters, Allied Forces Central Region (AFCENT), in Brunnsum, where he served as the Air Staff Policy Officer for the Central Region.

In 1981, Lt. Colonel Goldberg returned to the United States and to Air University, Maxwell AFB AL where he first served as the Chief, National Security Affairs Division, Air Command and Staff College and  then as the Director of Curriculum Development in the Associate School of the Air War College. He retired from the Air Force on 1 August 1985 after two months shy of 30 years active duty.

Retuning to civilian life, Dr. Goldberg moved to the Washington DC area where he spent a short period as an independent consultant with the Institute for Defense Analysis but then accepted a position with the federal government, serving another 16 years before finally retiring. During that period, he began a doctoral program in International Relations at the University of Maryland, earning a second MA in European Security but was forced to cut his studies short of the Ph.D. when the Berlin Wall fell and his dissertation subject “disappeared!” Following his second retirement in 2002, he returned to the University of Maryland as a History major and earned his Ph.D. in Modern European History in 2012.

Dr. Goldberg recently wrote the Forward to, and was the technical editor of, Jewish Aviators in World War II by Bruce Wolk and is the author of the forthcoming book on the rearming of Germany following World War II, titled From Disarmament to Rearmament: The Reversal of U.S. Policy Toward West Germany, 1946–1955, due out in October 2017 from Ohio University Press.

Rabbi Shmuel (Stewart) Weiss

Rabbi Stewart Weiss was educated at the Bet Midrash L’Torah – Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, where he received his Semicha and degrees in Hebrew Literature and Practical Rabbinics.

Rabbi Weiss served in various pulpits and was head Jewish chaplain at Rush Medical Center in Chicago before making Aliyah in 1992. Rabbi Weiss founded and directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra’anana, offering religious and educational programs to olim.

Rabbi Weiss is a regular columnist for the Jerusalem Post, and lectures frequently around the world. He regularly leads tours to places of interest around the world. He is also a member of the Ra’anana City Council.

Rabbi Weiss will take a leading role in our minyanim and Shabbat programming, and will offer several Torah-themed classes and activities on board.


Original founder/producer/musican of the Ruach Revival

Howie Kahn made his Kosher River Cruise debut this past summer on the Rhine River.  He entertained our guests with programs that included American folk music as well as hits from New York’s Broadway and London’s West End.  Howie saved his best for last with a concert of classic Shlomo Carlebach tunes.  Not only did he have all of the audience singing along, by the end of the show most of them were up and dancing to the the soulful melodies of the world-famous “Singing Rabbi.”  That’s really not so surprising being that Howie was Carlebach’s accordionist in the early 1970’s performing both in America and Israel.  He also was the founder/producer/vocalist/pianist of the Ruach Revival which was one of the more popular Jewish bands from that era.

For our upcoming Normandy-Seine River Cruise, Howie has prepared a few more entertaining programs which will  actually fit in with our D-Day / Allied Invasion of Normandy theme.  One is called “America the Beautiful” which is billed as “A Patriotic Musical Salute to the Good Ole’ USA.”  The participation of England in the battle inspired Howie’s show “The British Are Coming!”  This concert features many hits from the mid-1960’s of the “British Invasion” musical groups such as The Beatles plus many others.  He will conclude with a special evening commemorating the 23rd Yahrzeit of the passing of Shlomo Carlebach z”l.  It is called “I Heard the Rabbi Singing” and is described as “A Musical Tribute to Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach with Songs, Stories and Film.”

As Howie writes at the bottom of each of his printed programs and as we too have learned from his past performances for us on Kosher River Cruises, “A splendid time is guaranteed for all.”

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