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We’re broken now but we will be stronger soon

Gilad, Daniel, Betzalel, Ilan, and Roy. (via X)

“Broken.”

That’s how I responded to texts asking how I am.

Today, we buried four soldiers from our plugah, Chetz, the ultra-Orthodox unit in the Paratroopers.

Tomorrow, we’ll bury a fifth.

I’m broken for their families. I’m broken for their fellow soldiers and friends. I’m broken for the soldiers who accidentally pulled the trigger and would do anything to take it back.

Five innocent and pure young men, taken from us far too early, soldiers of valor who went out to defend the Jewish people from pure evil. Men who came from different parts of Israeli society, including the ultra-Orthodox sector, some of whom made many sacrifices to be fighting in this war, and to be in the army at all.

Gilad Boim, 22, was the caring company medic who diligently took care of the unit’s soldiers. If someone needed him, he was there, putting his soldiers before himself. Always.

Daniel Chemo, 20, was the soldier who always went in first and the glue of the unit, bringing people together and providing an uplifting spirit during the hardest of days with his infectious smile.

Betzalel David Shashuah, 21, never let anyone give up on themselves, pushing them to succeed. Failure was not an option to him, no matter how hard the obstacles were to overcome.

Ilan Cohen, 20, made aliyah from Argentina to serve in the IDF. Intellectually curious, his desire to learn and grow was unquenchable. His values and ethics were second to none.

Roy Beit Yaakov, 22, was the commander of the platoon. He fought valiantly on October 7th, and his professionalism earned him praise from everyone around him. You knew that when you were with Roy, you were in good hands, because he meant business.

Five bright futures, extinguished in a matter of seconds.

We founded the Chetz Association to help ultra-Orthodox soldiers adapt to the difficulties of army life. Many of them, including two of the five killed, were lone soldiers. The Chetz Association strives to provide mentorship and a support system for current soldiers and eventually, we formed a veteran community to help those who needed it integrate into Israeli society.

Never did we think we’d have to expand our activities to support bereaved families. But this is life as a Jew in Israel.

I’m broken because Gilad, Daniel, Betzalel, Ilan, and Roy will never get to be part of our veteran community. I wasn’t their commander, but I was their big brother from afar.

Though we may be broken, hurt, and down, we are strong. We will come through this stronger than ever before. We’ll unite as a unit to remember our fallen brothers in arms, caring for one another, as we protect Am Yisroel.

יהי זכרם ברוכים.

About the Author
After serving in the IDF as an officer in the Haredi unit in the Paratroopers, Shai studied Management and Technology at Bar Ilan University. He is currently the CEO and Co-Founder at Amutat Chetz, an organization dedicated to helping Haredi soldiers in the IDF.
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