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In 1915, British commander General Maxwell rejected the idea - concocted by Zeev Jabotinsky, Zionist leader and Joseph Trumpeldor, the famed one-armed fighter - of a Jewish military unit participating in the British effort to liberate Palestine from the Ottoman Empire. One reason: foreign nationals were not allowed in the British Army. Maxwell therefore suggested that a "mule corps" be formed to serve somewhere else on the Turkish front. Jabotinsky refused to go along and left for Europe to seek other support for a Jewish unit, but Trumpeldor accepted it.
Soon he was recruiting volunteers from among the Jews in Egypt who had been deported there by the Ottomans. On this day (the 8th of Nissan, April 2nd) 650 Jewish recruits officially formed the Zion Mule Corps, Three weeks later together with the first British, Australian, New Zealand and French troops, this Jewish Legion landed on the Gallipoli peninsula. This foray was designed to spearhead an Allied invasion through southern Turkey to release Allied men and resources from the Middle East to fight in Europe. Its Commanding Officer was Lieutenant-Colonel John Henry Patterson, an Irish Protestant. Second-in-command was Trumpeldor and Jabotinsky returned to serve as an officer. Patterson later wrote: "Many of the Zionists whom I [originally] thought somewhat lacking in courage showed themselves fearless to a degree when under heavy fire.”
Finally, in August 1917, the formation of a Jewish regiment as part of the regular British forces was officially announced. The unit was designated as the 38th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers and included British volunteers, as well as members of the former Zion Mule Corps and a large number of Russian Jews. The Jewish legion would eventually grow into a 5,000 member fighting force and was the forrunner of today’s IDF.
Today, HEBREW ACADEMY salutes one of its former students, ZACHARY FRISCH who now serves in Eretz Yisroel. PS: Zach never stood as straight while in HACS. Hatzlcah Rabba, May Hashem protect you as you protect us.

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