Momument to Honor Fallen American Soldier

When war broke out last summer between Israel and Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, First Sgt. Michael Levin was visiting family and friends in his hometown of Holland, Pa. Instead of staying at a comfortable distance from the war, he cut his trip short and rushed to the front lines. He died in battle soon after, at age 22.

To honor Levin's sacrifice as the only American-born Israel Defense Force soldier to die in that war, a memorial pillar has been proposed to be built at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem.

The monument will be about five- or six-feet tall, complete with a picture of Levin and some text about his life, according to Evan Levitt, campaign executive at the Jewish National Fund of Eastern Pennsylvania, the organization that owns the land. Ammunition Hill, the site of the bloody 1967 battle that helped lead to the reunification of Jerusalem, has a special meaning for paratroopers because on that site they receive their red berets after completing training.

"We endorse this project 100 percent," said Mark Levin, Michael's father, who traveled to the site with his family to see his son accept his beret.

"To see a permanent pillar from the entire Philadelphia Jewish community honoring one of their own," he continued, "is a very, very nice and fitting tribute to Michael."

The Levin memorial is one part of a $5 million redevelopment project at the site, with JNF planning to build a wall of honor that will display plaques dedicated to Jewish soldiers who have fought in any war, regardless of country of origin — and not just wars fought by Israel, according to Levitt.

For the Levin memorial, organizers have already raised approximately $32,000, with the end goal of reaching $100,000, stated Robert Dunn, who's helping with fundraising.

Although a timetable for the monument is contingent on how much is donated, Mark Levin estimates that it could take about two years before the project is fully completed. Plaques for the wall of honor can be purchased for $5,000, and the $100,000 raised for the pillar will include a place for Levin on the larger wall, according to Levitt.

'Not Be Forgotten'

Michael Levin's love for Israel stemmed from his childhood, when he attended Congregation Tifereth Israel of Lower Bucks County in Bensalem — there, he became a Bar Mitzvah — as well as from Camp Ramah in the Poconos.

While a student at Council Rock High School, the 120-pounder told his parents that he wanted to make aliyah and join the Israel Defense Force; indeed, he eventually earned a spot on the 890 Paratrooper Brigade, which was none other than Ariel Sharon's own unit.

Said Michael's father of the the memorial pillar: It will, for one thing, "ensure that Michael's name will not be forgotten very quickly."



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