Thirty-five soldiers from the haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) paratrooper company known as Chetz received their red berets on Thursday in a ceremony at Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill.
Among the new paratroopers is Joe Brickman, of Brooklyn, N.Y., grandson of Col. Rabbi Jacob Goldstein, former chief chaplain of the New York Army National Guard. The rabbi made a special trip to Israel to congratulate his grandson and fellow soldiers.
Goldstein served in the U.S. Army for 38 years. He enlisted after encouragement from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
A Chabad rabbi, Goldstein was seen as something of a trailblazer—the first soldier to receive a U.S. military exemption from shaving his beard. His military career led him around the world, to Bosnia, South Korea, Afghanistan, Cuba and Iraq.
During the Gulf War, Goldstein traveled to Israel along with an American delegation, and during the 9/11 attacks, his National Guard unit was among the first to arrive on the terror scene in Manhattan.
He retired in 2015 at the mandatory retirement age of 68.
Chetz, the Hebrew acronym of “Charedi Tzanchanim” (Haredi Paratroopers) was founded in the beginning of 2017 following the outstanding success of the haredi Netzach Yehuda (Nahal Haredi) Brigade.
Nahal Haredi organization rabbis, who escort the soldiers throughout their years of army service and beyond, said: “We are thrilled with the successful integration of a haredi company into the paratroopers. Chetz paratroopers prove that it is, indeed, possible to serve in combat units in the IDF without compromising on an authentic haredi lifestyle.”