Throughout his naval career, Uriah P. Levy faced six court-marshals for verbal and physical flare-ups with fellow officers resulting from anti-Semitic insults. At one point, he was even stripped of his Naval commission.
But now the name of Levy – who was born in Philadelphia in 1792, and became the first Jew to achieve the rank of commodore – has been immortalized on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
Last month, after nearly two years of construction, the academy opened the Uriah Phillips Levy Center and Jewish Chapel.
The 35,000-square-foot facility will house a 400-seat synagogue, along with the academy's Character Learning Center and the Academy's Honor Board.
The building, which features a mosaic tile floor and a wall of Jerusalem limestone to evoke the Western Wall, will host permanent exhibits on Levy's life, along with showcases on Naval Academy Jewish alumni and athletes, and Jewish women in the Navy.
The building's dome is meant to replicate Monticello, the homestead of Thomas Jefferson, which Levy purchased and restored 30 years after the president's death.
The military said it provided $1.8 million for the $8 million construction. The rest was provided by some 2,000 private donors.