Up to what extent are you willing to give in order to perform your sworn duty? To Rabbi Alexander Goode and his fellow chaplains aboard the USAT Dorchester, they were willing to give more than what was expected of them. They all sank with the ship after performing their sworn oath and more, living their faith and devotion up until the very end. The last sight of the Rabbi and the three other chaplains: the four of them arm in arm, praying together as the unforgiving waves slowly enveloped Dorchester.

Answering his Calling

Alexander Goode was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1911. He was one of the four children of Hyman Goodekowitz, who was also a rabbi, footsteps that he would follow later on in his life. He became a rabbi after graduating from the University of Cincinnati and then Hebrew Union College in 1937. After three years, he received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. He also had a small lovely family with his wife Teresa Flax and their daughter, Rosalie.

Rabbi Alexander David Goode, lieutenant in the United States Army.
Rabbi Alexander David Goode, lieutenant in the United States Army. (U.S. Army, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

He would often lead joint services with Christian churches as a rabbi at the Beth Israel synagogue in York, Pennsylvania, emphasizing interfaith unity and cultural pluralism. Alexander Goode was already living a fulfilling and accomplished life before he joined the army. However, perhaps it was his calling that Goode still chose to study at the Army Chaplain School at Harvard University and was soon deployed to Europe and briefly served at an airbase in North Carolina. In October 1942, he met and joined the other member of the Four Chaplains before he received orders to go overseas to a base in Greenland.

Embarked on a Journey

In January 1934, Goode boarded his last ship in New York City, the USAT Dorchester. It was a former passenger liner converted into a troopship during World War II. With him were his three fellow first lieutenants that were all chaplains, too: Catholic priest Father John P. Washington, Methodist minister the Reverend George L. Fox, and Reformed Church in America minister Reverend Clark V. Poling.