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‘Special in Uniform’ Makes Sure All Israelis Have the Chance to Join the IDF

For Loten Aroch it is a holiday. It is not only her own holiday, it’s the holiday of her family, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Israeli society as a whole and the Jewish people everywhere.

Loten was born with cerebral palsy. During her senior year in high school, when IDF officials visited and lectured about the army, all she could think about was serving. Her dream was to be a soldier in the IDF, just like everyone else. Parents, teachers and friends gently attempted to dissuade her so she wouldn’t get let down. Her parents even accompanied her to army registration where they received the doctor’s verdict that she was exempt from army service, but Loten wasn’t deterred. “I want to serve in army. I want to wear a uniform!” And she did. She joined Special in Uniform as a volunteer and entered the IDF with complete confidence and the motivation to succeed. After one year of volunteering Loten was accepted as a fully enlisted soldier and received her choger, the army identification card.

“It was a major victory and such a moving experience to see her accomplish this. I’m so proud of her,” says her mother.

Then Loten reached another milestone. She was promoted to the rank of Corporal. Her family and her friends in the base were invited to join the ceremony. A moment before the ceremony begin, a bus entered the base with 50 JNF Women for Israel (WFI) members from the Queen of Sheba Mission to Israel. They came to celebrate this special occasion with Loten.

At the ceremony, Lynne Miraim (Tampa, FL) said: “I’m proud to be part of JNF Task Force on Disabilities and to meet … wonderful people like Loten, a young lady that so wanted to serve in army and to wear a uniform.”

“Special in Uniform is a very unique program that enables young people with autism and other disabilities to join the Israel Defense Forces and, in turn, Israeli society,” said National JNF WFI President, and member of JNF’s Task Force on Disabilities, Nina Paul (Cincinnati,OH). “We are very proud to be here today to support them and Loten.”

“Our Jewish values teach us that each of us is created in God’s image and each of us is to be valued,” said Tiran Attia, Director of Special in Uniform. “Today we salute Loten and her friends as we acknowledge and celebrate inclusion [of] persons with disabilities.”

As part of its focus on improving quality of life in Israel, JNF is dedicated to ensuring that no member of Israeli society is left behind. Partnering with Special in Uniform fulfills JNF’s vision of building a society that looks beyond the surface and disability to the person within, reflecting values that are inherent to Jewish life and tikkun olam, repairing the world and making it a better place.

Special in Uniform is dedicated to integrating youth with disabilities and special needs into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Lt. Col. (Res.) Ariel Almog, Chairman of Special in Uniform, is coming to share the special program with the Teaneck community. On Monday, December 12, at 7:00 p.m., he will speak at Congregation Beth Sholom (354 Maitland Avenue, Teaneck, NJ) about the work JNF does for people with disabilities and special needs and how it works to ensure that everyone, regardless of individual challenges, is able to feel that they are not only supported, but that they belong.

To attend, please RSVP to [email protected] by December 5. For more information, please contact Jocelyn Inglis at [email protected] or 973-593-0095 x823.

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