Ir new bat­tles

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - UK BACK­ERS NET­WORK TO­WARDS £3M

THE UK sup­port char­ity for Beit Halochem is a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to its work, hav­ing raised a record­break­ing £3 mil­lion for the year.

Fif­teen per cent of the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s £11 mil­lion an­nual tar­get comes from the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment. A quar­ter comes from mem­bers and the re­main­ing 60 per cent from dona­tions around the world.

Spencer Geld­ing, who leads Beit Halochem UK, is mo­ti­vated by the de­sire “to have a strong Jewish state. Sol­diers car­ry­ing out their na­tional ser­vice are just young peo­ple look­ing for­ward to a life ahead of them.

“All we are here to do is help [those in­jured in ser­vice] back on their path and man­age their dis­abil­ity.”

He be­lieves the key to suc­cess­ful fundrais­ing is to run things “like a busi­ness, not a char­ity” — for ex­am­ple, by of­fer­ing net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to sup­port­ers.

“I think the older gen­er­a­tion — es­pe­cially when they came to Is­rael — were much more Zion­is­tic and gave as a cause,” says Mr Geld­ing, 41. “Our gen­er­a­tion want some­thing in re­turn. We are sur­viv­ing be­cause we have a young donor base.

“I help put peo­ple to­gether. It’s about cap­i­tal­is­ing on net­work­ing. It is about mak­ing young peo­ple

for Kuchel Yo­ram, 67, who lost an arm serv­ing in the air force dur­ing the Yom Kip­pur War. “A res­cue ve­hi­cle tipped over and I was in it,” he re­calls. “I saw my arm hang­ing off. My first thought was: ‘How am I go­ing to play bas­ket­ball again?’” In­stead, he learnt golf, de­ter­mined feel im­por­tant. If some­thing comes out of it, all I ask is they re­mem­ber Beit Halochem.”

He says to them: “While you are sit­ting in your ho­tel, there are men and women on our bor­ders pro­tect­ing this coun­try. No mat­ter what you give, you can phys­i­cally change the life of one of our guys.”

His fo­cus is now on the new cen­tre in Ash­dod, which “will also be open to civil­ian vic­tims of terror, as well as to or­phans and wid­ows of de­ceased IDF sol­diers.

“And it will of­fer spe­cial out­reach pro­grammes to lo­cal un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren.”


not to let his in­jury dic­tate his life. “I have never asked for help from any­one,” he says.

“The first day back from hospi­tal, my car broke down. I said to my wife: ‘Don’t worry.’ I got the tools, sat on the floor, and us­ing my legs, changed the tyre.”

His in­volve­ment with Beit Halochem has ex­tended to sup­port­ing in­jured veter­ans seek­ing em­ploy­ment.

In the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s Jerusalem pool, 10 men sing and clap. Some have lost limbs, oth­ers still bat­tle with se­vere men­tal health is­sues. But to­gether they find so­lace and sup­port.

Moshe Mizrahi is show­ing off his archery skills in the court­yard. Although his san­dals re­veal miss­ing toes on his left foot, he’s not here be­cause of his army ex­pe­ri­ences.

The 64-year-old from Jerusalem — who of­fers wa­ter­melon and Bul­gar­ian cheese to friends — be­comes sub­dued as he re­counts the story of his son Shacher, who com­mit­ted sui­cide in 1995 after be­ing re­lieved from army ser­vice for med­i­cal rea­sons. Six years later, his 21-year-old daugh­ter Idit was shot and killed by a ter­ror­ist as he drove the fam­ily to a wed­ding.

“I don’t work any­more,” he says. “It’s not be­cause I’ve reached re­tire­ment. It’s be­cause my brain re­tired a long time ago.

“It’s never been the same since my daugh­ter was mur­dered in front of me. She was just out of the army. They shot at our car, they shot me in the foot, they mur­dered her.

“I am past the be­reave­ment, the cry­ing and the pain,” he adds, stress­ing his grat­i­tude for the refuge Beit

Halochem has pro­vided.

Gadi Shar­lin, 69, was found alive in a Haifa morgue after be­ing shot in the head dur­ing the Six Day War. Paral­ysed from the neck down, the former Golani sol­dier re­mem­bers hav­ing to “learn the aleph-bet right from the begin­ning”. After com­plet­ing an eco­nomics de­gree at Haifa Univer­sity, he worked for the Bank of Is­rael.

“I never missed out on any­thing,” he says, be­fore leav­ing for a hy­drother­apy ses­sion. “I have a won­der­ful wife and chil­dren. I didn’t let my in­jury hold me back.”

Eren­lib, mean­while, ex­presses frus­tra­tion at neg­a­tive por­tray­als of the Is­raeli army. “[The en­emy] wants to kill us. Look at the stab­bings, look at the ex­plo­sives they have put in shop­ping cen­tres. The army is the most im­por­tant thing for Is­rael. With­out it, Is­rael would not ex­ist. Some­times you need to pay the price.”

I never missed out. I didn’t let my in­jury hold me back’

Itay Eren­lib

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