May 18, 2024
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Special in Uniform Salutes IDF While Netanyahu Salutes Special in Uniform

(Courtesy of Special in Uniform) Thirty young men with physical disabilities who had just completed their induction ceremony recently arranged a heartwarming ceremony called Salute the IDF in honor of Israel Defense Forces’ 70th anniversary. The soldiers are incorporated into the military in the framework of Special in Uniform, a pioneering program by Lend a Hand to a Special Child and JNF-USA that enables youths with physical disabilities and special needs to serve in the IDF. The ceremony was attended by Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman, Minister of Culture Miri Regev, Opposition Leader Buzi Herzog and Chairman of Yesh Atid Yair Lapid and others.

Yet before the long-awaited ceremony began, the new soldiers were treated to an even higher honor—a private meeting with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The soldiers were ushered into the prime minister’s office where they were warmly received by the prime minister himself who shook hands with each one, embraced him and posed for pictures.

“It’s good to see you in uniform!” he exclaimed. “A veteran soldier!”

Among the lucky soldiers were Yisrael Malka, 22, of Beit Shemesh who works in the officers’ kitchen on the Palmachim army base; Dor Zecharya, 21, of Bat Yam who works in the logistics warehouse of Home Front Command in Ramle; Guy Mehatzri, 22, of Kiryat Ekron who also works in the logistics warehouse of Home Front Command in Ramle; Ido Cohen, 26, of Rishon L’Zion who works in the master sergeant’s office on the Palmachim; and Dror Chemdi, 22, of Jerusalem, who mans an information booth in the recreational center at Palmachim.

The prime minister and soldiers’ discussion spanned a variety of topics, in the course of which Netanyahu agreed that if his brother Yoni were still alive, he would have surely been proud of these valiant young soldiers. Netanyahu added sincerely, “It’s a great privilege for you and a great privilege for the IDF, which benefits from your wonderful talents and commitment.”

During the subsequent ceremony, Chairman of Lend a Hand to a Special Child Brigadier General (Res.) Gabi Ophir presented the Inclusion Award of 2018 to the IDF, a tribute to its efforts to integrate thousands of young people with special needs into the armed forces.

Special in Uniform is a unique program that enables youths with physical disabilities to join the Israel Defense Forces. To date, over 450 young men and women with a wide range of disabilities have been integrated into military service in 25 army bases around the country. The soldiers, who are supported by the association’s professional staff throughout the period of their service, contribute greatly to the army by fulfilling assorted tasks and roles.

Lend a Hand to a Special Child is a grassroots organization founded in 2004 by Rabbi Mendy Belintzky and parents of children who wished to concentrate all the tools, resources and available options to provide their children with all they need to cope with their challenges and disabilities. The goal was to enable the children to achieve growth, quality of life and happiness and integrate maximally into their family and greater society, a goal that is fostered by Special in Uniform.

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