Decorated Israeli Paratrooper
If you play tennis, attend any of the country club parties or eat at the Towers Restaurant
you’ve seen Asher Pachinsky. He and Sheila Levine have lived here since 2008 and are
very gregarious. Asher was in the Israeli army, Israel Defense Force (IDF), where he was
highly decorated for bravery. The wings in the center of the plaque represents his service
as a paratrooper. The yellow ribbon was for valor in the Sinai campaign where Moshe
Dayon was his commander.
BY FRED CHERNOW
Photos courtesy of Asher Pachinsky
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP, ASHER?
I am technically a Palestinian, because I was
born in Palestine before there was a State of
Israel. At age two, I was placed in an orphanage
run by Hadassah, along with my brothers.
When I was 10, I was sent to a Kibbutz, a half
mile from Gaza. On my 17th birthday, I entered
the IDF and later trained as a paratrooper,
which was an elite unit. Very few went on to
earn the wings displayed here. The ribbon was
awarded to me after the Sinai Campaign, where
many of my fellow offices perished. The yellow
represents the sand, the blue the sky, and the
red of the blood that was shed.
The training was difficult, but for some
reason, I took to it and did well. I became an
expert with a rifle and soon was a bazooka
marksman. I received additional training and
won some other medals. Most of my wartime
action was in Egypt and
Jordan, including Sharm
el-Sheik on the southern tip
of the Sinai Peninsula.
WHY DID YOU BECOME A
This was an elite group.
And the idea of jumping out
of an airplane with nothing
more than a silk umbrella to
bring me safely to the ground
was fascinating. Also, there
was a financial incentive.
Israel was a young, poor
country fighting for its life.
There was not much money
to pay the military. Of course
I got room and board, but
only $21 a month in pay for
extras. Paratroopers got a
bonus of $3 per month and I jumped no pun
intended at the chance. Most flunked out and
I was proud to be accepted.
WHAT DID YOU DO WHEN YOU WERE
I trained as an electrician. Israel was growing
as a country and I was proud to be a part of
its growth. I met my future wife, Ilana, and we
had plans to marry and go to the United States.
The problem was Ilana had to complete her
compulsory military service before she could
leave Israel. I waited for her two year service
to end. In 1961, we emigrated to the United
States, where her parents had come earlier to
I got a job working in a body and fender
repair shop. But my employer took advantage
of me, because I did not know a word of
English. A formal class would take too long to
get the immediate results I needed. My fatherin
law said he knew a shortcut. We ate dinner
in their apartment most nights, because our
rent was $99 a month. Ilana was earning $60
a week as a teacher and I brought home $37
a week. This left little for food. My father-inlaw’s
shortcut was to sit me in front of his
black and white TV set every night after dinner.
Together, we watched Bill Beutel do the news
He chose Beutel because of his slow,
cadenced delivery. During commercials, we
reviewed what he said. After
a few months, I gained poise
and confidence with the
English language and left
the body shop.
WHAT CAME NEXT?
My father-in-law was
doing well as a general contractor,
building new homes
on Staten Island. He took
me with him as his junior
electrician. I thought all of
New York would look like
Queens Boulevard. Going
to Staten Island every day
really opened my eyes. Soon,
Ilana and I could afford a
larger apartment in Forest
Hills and our family grew to
include Susan in 1964 and
Roy in 1965. Sadly, in 2007, Ilana passed away.
I continued to do work on Staten Island, but by
now I had become a licensed contractor myself.
HOW DID YOU MEET SHEILA LEVINE?
Sheila and I have been friends and living
together for ten years.
Sheila recalls their meeting: “I had lost
a significant man in my life just three
Asher Pachinsky and Sheila Levine
months before and was having lunch
with a girlfriend in the Sherwood diner in
Lawrence, Long Island. My friend was telling
me I can’t just sit home and mope and
I should be open to meeting a new man. I
lamented it would be hard to replace the
man who died so suddenly. At that point,
two gentlemen walked in and sat down
at a neighboring table. My friend had a
good view, but my back was turned toward
them. I couldn’t make out what they were
saying, but I was attracted to the deep,
masculine voice with the slight accent. My
gutsy friend wrote my name and phone
number on a napkin. When it was time
to leave, we paused at their table and my
friend asked the tall, good looking man
if he was single. Somewhat shocked, he
smiled and told us his wife had died four
months earlier. We introduced ourselves,
and I learned his name was Asher and at
that point, she dropped the napkin with
my name and phone number in front of
him and suggested he call me. His married
friend, Charlie, grabbed the napkin and
said it was too early and he would hold
it until a year had passed and only then
would Asher call me.
When we exited the diner I commented
he’ll never call and Charlie will probably
lose or toss the napkin. Wrong! Four
months later, Asher called and we had our
first date, just the two of us, at the Bevanda
Restaurant on Middle Neck Road in Great
Neck. It started as mutual attraction and
we have been together ever since.
We love living at NST. I enjoy playing tennis
here and socializing with the Tennis Club members.
Sheila is active in the Women’s Club and
we have many meals in the Towers Restaurant.
Each year, we visit Israel and I see my brothers
and friends there. Because we love the beach
in Tel Aviv, we stay at the Park Plaza Hotel.
Asher Israeli honor
4 NORTH SHORE TOWERS COURIER ¢ December 2017