In this interview, Henry Rittenberg, a Citadel Graduate Class 1938, remembers his experiences as a Jewish cadet. At this time, about five hundred young men were part of the Corps of Cadets but only ten or twelve of them were Jewish. Catholics and Protestants were able to express their faith on campus, but Jewish cadets did not have that privilege. There were no organized Jewish services, a rabbi never visited the campus, and Jewish cadets had to request permission to leave for the High Holy Days. Moreover, The Citadel did not offer accommodations for the Jewish cadets to have kosher food or keep the Shabbat. However, Rittenberg reflects that these kind of religious issues were not very concerning among his peers, commenting they were not ignored but rather they were “under the radar”. In the interview, Rittenberg names other Jewish cadets that attended The Citadel in the 1930s and early 40s. Finally, Rittenberg tells about his participation on ad hoc committees for the Board of Visitors during the 1990s. In that role, he participated in important discussions such as the admission of women to the Corps and the filming of the movie Lords of Discipline based on Pat Conroy’s book of the same name.
This interview is part of The Citadel in War and Peace series. The Citadel prides itself on producing principled and ethical leaders for the military, as well as in business and civic affairs. The Citadel in War and Peace traces the life histories and career trajectories of alumni, staff, and faculty to better understand the university’s multifaceted contributions to the U.S. national security and its continuing impact on the business and politics of South Carolina and the nation. An initial series of interviews focuses on Citadel alumni who served in World War II. It spotlights their combat experiences and recounts their return to civilian life and subsequent professional careers.