Among the paratroopers being honored one in particular, Joe Brickman, a Crown Heights native of Brooklyn New York, and grandson of U.S. Colonel Rabbi and Former Chief Chaplain of the New York National Guard.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Thirty-five soldiers from the IDF's Haredi paratrooper company Chetz received their red berets at a ceremony on Jerusalem's Ammunition Hill Thursday, signifying their acceptance into the IDF's elite paratrooper unit.
Ammunition Hill was once a fortified Jordanian military outpost prior to 1967 after the Jordanian Arab Legion seized control of the hill during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The hill was the site of one of the fiercest battles in the landscape-changing Six Day War.
Chetz, an acronym for Charedi Tzanchanim or Haredi Paratroopers in English, was founded in 2017 following the success of the Haredi Netzach Yehuda brigade.
“We are thrilled with the successful integration of a Haredi company into the paratroopers," Nahal Haredi Organization wrote in a statement, adding that "Chetz paratroopers prove that it is, indeed, possible to serve in combat units in the IDF without compromising on an authentic Haredi lifestyle.”
Among the paratroopers being honored was Joe Brickman, a Crown Heights native of Brooklyn New York and grandson of US Colonel and Former Chief Chaplain of the New York National Guard Rabbi Jacob Goldstein, who made a special trip out to Israel to be in attendance during the ceremony.
Goldstein served in the US Army for 38 years, after received a blessing from the Lubavitcher Rebbe Rabbi Menachem Mendel Shneerson. He completed tours in Bosnia, South Korea, Afghanistan, Cuba and Iraq during his tenure.
During the Gulf War in the early 1990's, Goldstein accompanied a delegation of Americans to Israel to help reduce tensions in the region. During the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center in Manhattan, his National Guard unit was among the initial first-responders to arrive on the scene.
The gravity of the ceremony being carried out on Jerusalem's Ammunition Hill carried volumes of significance throughout Israel's military history.
Ammunition Hill used to be located just due-west of an old police academy. The entrenchments and security fortifications were built by the British during their Mandatory Palestine in the 1930's.
The structure consisted of ten bunkers built along a system of trenches surrounding the hill, complete with mounted machine guns and underground bunkers created as living quarters for Jordanian soldiers.
After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the Jordanian Arab Legion seized control of the structures in the regions between Mount Scopus and West Jerusalem, now an Israeli controlled region. There were separated blocking access to Jewish travelers into surrounding religious sites, including Hadassah Medical Center and Hebrew University's campus.
The fighting between the two sides began on June 6, 1967 at 2:30 a.m. and lasted until 6:30 a.m. that morning. The mission of capturing the hill was given to the 3rd Company of the 66th Batallion of the 55th Paratroopers Brigade. During the battle, a unit of the 2nd company joined the fighting.
The Israeli soldiers successfully captured the fortified outpost within four hours of the start of the battle - thirty-six Israeli soldiers, one more than those being honored today, and 71 Jordanians were killed during the clashes that reconnected Mount Scopus to West Jerusalem.
Today a memorial site and museum sit upon the hill, preserving parts of the old post and surrounding bunkers.
In addition, 182 olive trees were planted on the hill, commemorating the 182 Israeli soldiers who lost their lives for the Battle of Jerusalem during the Six Day War.
Today this new recruit of Chetz soldiers continues to honor that memory, receiving their red berets on the hill that the IDF paratroopers in 1967 gave their lives so boldly to protect.
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