‘A hero in the creation of our homeland’: Remembering war veteran Jerry Gross, 96, who served with Machal in Israel’s first struggle for survival

The Haganah identity card (left) given to Montrealer Jerry Gross in 1948 when he arrived in then-Palestine to serve in a Jewish militia force before the State of Israel was proclaimed weeks later. Gross, seen in 2016, in the trailer for a documentary about the Machal soldiers who saved Israel. (Photos courtesy Jerry Gross and Jeff Hoffman, Squashhouse Media)

Funeral services were held Jan. 17 in Montreal for 96-year-old Joseph “Jerry” Gross, one of the last surviving Canadian veterans of Israel’s War of Independence in 1948. He served with the 52nd Battalion of the Givati Brigade, along with many other young volunteers.

Gross regularly organized reunions of North American machalniks—the Hebrew short form for the nearly 5,000 “volunteers from abroad” who helped defend the rag-tag Israeli troops against a vastly superior Arab invasion force.

Such contributions to the survival of a Jewish homeland could serve as an inspiration to the students of today, says to the Canadian producer of a documentary film about the machalniks, which is currently in production. Jeff M. Hoffman hopes his film, Unlikely Heroes, will get their story on big screens everywhere. He joins The CJN Daily to talk about it.


The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here.