WWII Dog Tags, Miniature Mezuzah Returned to Jewish Veteran’s Family 50 Years After Being Found on NY Beach
A woman who found a World War II veteran’s dog tags along with a small metal mezuzah on a New York beach in the 1960s was finally able to return the items to the owner’s family, The Associated Press reported on Sunday.
According to the report, on Aug. 22, Laurie Lubin, of Bellmore, NY, returned the lost items to Queens resident Audrey Berk, the daughter of Brooklyn native and late WWII soldier Irving Isaacs.
Lubin, now 64, found Isaacs’ belongings in the summer of ’66 at Rockaway Beach in Queens. She immediately recognized the items lying in the sand, because her own father, also a war veteran, had a miniature mezuzah hanging from his own dog-tag chain, as well. According to the AP, it was common practice among Jewish servicemen to carry these objects together.
Lubin struggled for decades to track down Isaacs, a quest that led her to numerous dead ends.
Last February, she read an AP story about an Indiana soldier’s WWII dog tag being returned to his family after it was found on the Pacific Island of Saipan. Lubin contacted the news outlet and was put in touch with a researcher who found information on two WWII New York Army veterans named Irving Isaacs. One of these had changed his name and moved to California. The other remained in New York until his death in 1992. After further investigation, Lubin confirmed that she had finally located the right man.
Lubin contacted Berk with the news earlier this month.
“I was shocked… It was just amazing. I was speechless,” Berk, 66, recalled. “Then we started talking and I know her family, which is even more shocking.” She once lived in the same Queens apartment complex as the ex-wife and children of Lubin’s husband. She has known the Lubin family for years, but had never met Laurie before.
Berk plans to send one of the dog tags to her sister in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Lubin said she is glad she stuck to her mission all these years, even when her obsession with finding Isaacs became a family joke. She told the AP, “I’m just so happy to return it to them,” adding in Yiddish that the story’s outcome is “bashert,” which means, “It was meant to be.”