The Ablest Navigator, Paul Shulman, Israel’s Volunteer Admiral

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The Ablest Navigator, Paul Shulman, Israel’s Volunteer Admiral

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The Center for World War II studies and Conflict Resolution at Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, NJ, presents a video podcast from its spring 2012 lecture series. In this program, author and naval historian J. Wandres discusses his book, Ablest Navigator: Lieutenant Paul N. Shulman USN, Israel's Volunteer Admiral. This program was recorded May 8, 2012 at Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, NJ. (Buy this book at by clicking on the book title.)

Shulman was a 1944 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy — one of just fifty Jewish midshipmen commissioned in his class during World War II.

In the Pacific, Lt. Shulman's destroyer survived both a typhoon and a Japanese kamikaze aircraft attack.

After leaving the U.S. Navy and returning to civilian life, he volunteered to help the Haganah, the paramilitary force of the Jewish Agency for Palestine headed by David Ben-Gurion. Shulman had been introduced to Ben-Gurion by his mother, who was an executive with Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America. Working in New York City, he helped to buy surplus warships for the Haganah s clandestine sealift that brought Holocaust survivors from Europe to Palestine.

In early 1948 Ben-Gurion called the 25-year-old Shulman to Israel to set up an academy to train officers and NCOs to man ships of Israel s fledgling navy, which at that point only had the refugee vessels.

Beginning with almost no assets, within three months, now-Kvarnit (Commander) Shulman took the Israeli squadron into action against enemy ships, and even against one vessel fighting with Israeli forces. After Israel won its independence most of the 1,200 American and Canadian volunteers went home. Shulman, with his wife and infant son, remained in Israel, settling in Haifa, which would be their home for the next forty years.

After Shulman died in 1994, a stained glass window was dedicated in his memory at the U.S. Naval Academy's new Uriah P. Levy Chapel.