April 22, 1792 - March 22, 1862
Nissan 30, 5552 - Adar II 20, 5622
"I am an American, a sailor and a Jew."
Born in Philadelphia in 1792, Uriah Phillips Levy was a fifth generation American. According to family stories, he left for sea at ten years old, returning to celebrate his bar mitzvah here at Congregation Mikveh Israel in 1805. He served with distinction in the U.S. Navy in the War of 1812, and became the first Jewish U.S. Navy Commodore, a rank equivalent to Admiral today.
During his fifty-year naval career, Levy was court martialed six times and killed a man in a duel - all incidents related to rampant anti-Semitism. He was dismissed twice from the U.S. Navy, but was reinstated by Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler. He went on to command the Mediterranean Fleet and was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln to head the Navy Court Martial Board during the Civil War. Levy played a key role in helping to repeal the flogging of sailors, making the U.S. Navy the first military organization in the world to abolish physical punishment.
Levy greatly admired President Thomas Jefferson and the Bill of Rights he crafted, which safeguarded religious liberties for all Americans. In 1832, he commissioned a statue of Jefferson, which sits in the U.S. Capitol today. In
1834, Levy purchased Monticello, Jefferson's home near Charlottesville, Virginia, which he repaired, restored and preserved for future generations.
The World War II destroyer escort USS Levy (DE-162) was named in his honor, as were the Uriah P. Levy Jewish Chapel at the Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia, and the Commodore Uriah P. Levy Center and Jewish Chapel at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Levy is buried at Beth Olom Cemetery in Queens, New York.
Sculptor: Gregory Pototsky
Given with love of God and Country
In Memory of Vice Admiral James A. Zimble, MC USN Ret. (1933-2011)
Beloved 30th Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy
Dedicated 16, 2011, Kislev 20, 5772
Rabbi Aaron Landes, Rear Admiral CHC USN Ret.
Captain Gary "Yuri" Tabach, USN Ret
Joshua H. Landes