Comrades, family gather to salute a hero

Goodman, an immigrant from the US, when his parachute got tangled with that of another paratrooper.

herzl coffin 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
herzl coffin 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Hundreds of comrades and relatives gathered at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem Wednesday to remember, celebrate and pray for Yosef Goodman, a member of the IDF's elite Maglan Paratrooper Brigade who died last February in a training accident near Ashdod at age 20. Goodman, an immigrant from the US, died on his 33rd jump when his parachute got tangled with that of another paratrooper. He cut his own chute to save his comrade's life, but being too close to the ground for his own reserve chute to open, he fell to his death. Those gathered at the cemetery were caught up in emotion as Goodman's father Mordechai said Kaddish. His brother Shimon spoke of the obligations that surviving brothers have towards the fallen. He reminded those in attendance of the mitzva of yibum, a biblical tradition in which a deceased man's brother takes his wife as his own to pass the name along to future generations. Yosef's brother Yehuda is fulfilling that responsibility in a way, as he has taken his brother's place in the Maglan unit. "We will always be safe with Goodmans patrolling our skies," a family friend said. "Take a look around you - what were there, 300, 400 people here today, said Mordechai Goodman. "This was the kind of person Yosef was. He touched not just his own unit, but the entire army. He was a great soldier, and he died too young." As they waited to pay respects to Yosef's parents, his friends and family told sories about him. "Do you remember that football game where he bit a piece of his tongue off and didn't open his mouth for the entire half, so the refs wouldn't see the blood?" one of them asked. Yosef, he said, was someone who put the team before himself. "I could never not give tzdaka (charity) when Yosef came around collecting," one soldier said to another. "I know what you mean. I couldn't either. Yosef was someone who made sure everyone was provided for," he recalled. "I remember when were at the Hermon, and Yosef was hanging out with his friends; he let his little brother hang around, too," his brother Shimon said. "He never told me to go away." His comrades remembered his act of selflessness on the day he was killed, and declared he would always be remembered as a hero.