Beit Halochem hosts over 400 secondary school pupils
This past week, the Beit Halochem Centres in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem welcomed over 400 Year 9 students from three renowned Jewish Secondary Schools in the UK.
JCOSS, JFS and Immanuel College Year 9 students were given the opportunity to take part in a very special and rare visit of the Centres as part of their tour of Israel.
The Students met a number of brave Veterans and listened whilst they spoke about their experiences whilst serving in the IDF, their injuries and subsequent rehabilitation at Beit Halochem. They learnt about the power of sport and its important role in rehabilitation. They listened whilst veterans explained that at Beit Halochem, they were able to meet people who had been through similar experiences and how the Centres became a second home to them over the years.
They were also given the opportunity to play Wheelchair Basketball, Tennis and other sporting activities alongside Veterans. They toured the Centre, asking perceptive questions along the way and saw the shooting gallery, swimming pool, hydrotherapy pool, treatment rooms and other sport facilities.
Hanoch Budin, a Beit Halochem Veteran and Olympic swimming champion, addressed pupils from Immanuel College during their visit which was particularly special as he has recently visited and addressed the school in London. Last year, Beit Halochem UK was the chosen Israeli charity of choice for Immanuel College which resulted in the donation of £3,000. The money was used to purchase a special wheelchair for the Beit Halochem Tel Aviv wheelchair basketball team.
Immanuel College Pupils were also given the chance to play tennis with Beit Halochem Veteran Mike Guy, whose right leg is amputated up to half of his pelvis. He is a competitive wheelchair tennis player, an artist, takes part in off–the-beaten path jeep tours, studies Arabic at Beit Halochem, conducts voluntary activities for the benefit of soldiers in a military prison and acts as an ambassador for Beit Halochem. Mike, who is going on 81, is a retired employee of the Defense Establishment where he worked for 35 years. He, together with his family, devotes much time to his second son Eran who suffered a severe head injury in car accident whilst serving with the elite Egoz commando unit of the Golani Brigade. But Mike looks at things positively and says, “my injury opened up a new and vibrant chapter in my life.”
Yoram Kuchel, a Beit Halochem Veteran also played tennis with the students. Yoram was a reservist with the Israeli Air Force when in 1974 he was sent out on a combat mission to rescue the crew of a combat fighter plane which had undergone an emergency landing. Unbeknown to Yoram and his team, cluster bombs on the plane had not been disposed of prior to the emergency landing. As their jeep approached the plane, the bombs exploded. Yoram lost his left arm. Yoram recently joined Beit Halochem for their annual golf day.
Beit Halochem Veteran Anat Yahalom spoke to JCOSS pupils and toured the Centre with them. Yahalom was the Commander of a Women’s Unit in the Sinai when in 1973, Egyptian planes crossed the canal and bombarded her base. This year for Yom Hazikaron, she attended the special JCOSS Tekes and it was a special privilege for the pupils to hear from her again. She showed them the swimming pool, where she swims each morning. She told them:
“Another veteran amputee saw me crying and told me to swim. If you need to cry, he said, “then go cry in the water. No one will see you. You can shout in there and you can cry in there, and you can sing in there.” I took his advice and took my sorrows into the pool. Everything changed after that.”
In July, Beit Halochem will pitch against two other Israeli charities at the JCOSS charity fair.
In September, JFS plans to fundraise for Beit Halochem following the visit of all six year 9 forms this summer. Recently, JFS Pupils took part in a fundraising initiative for Beit Halochem. Pupils from each school year sold special army dogtags as a way to fundraise and raise awareness of Beit Halochem.