|18 Jun 2018|
470 guests attended Beit Halochem’s 7th gala dinner at The Royal Lancaster Hotel on Wednesday night, the largest number of people to attend the annual event to date. The evening raised £1,100,000.
Mrs Orly Wolfson, Dinner Chair and Beit Halochem Trustee, welcomed the guests telling them:
“At Beit Halochem we treat each member with a blend of physical and mental therapy. Through sport they overcome much of their physical disability and start to focus on what they can do. However bad their injuries are, Beit Halochem does amazing things to give people back more life than they ever thought possible.”
The first guest speaker, Beit Halochem Veteran, Loai Mari, told the audience:
“It is very special for me to be here this evening representing not only Beit Halochem but the entire Druze Community. More than 70% of Druze men serve in the security forces. Just in my village 30 men have fallen while serving in the IDF. We are very loyal citizens of Israel and are proud to defend our country.”
In 2002, on the Lebanon border, an explosive charge laid by the Hezbollah blew off both of his legs. Loai never felt sorry for himself and following eight surgeries on his legs he discovered Beit Halochem where he found “a true embracing home, one which fills my life with challenges and purpose”.
Libby Poster, a student at JFS School who represented Great Britain for Maccabi GB last year, spoke about her passion for football and her visit to Beit Halochem in Tel Aviv prior to the commencement of the Games. She said: “We were astounded by the resilience and determination of these professional athletes who made a strength of their disability, rising from a difficult path of recovery to true sporting greatness.”
The final guest speaker, Eitan Waks, a former IDF soldier who served in a small elite unit in the paratrooper brigade and now paralyzed from the neck down, said:
“The truth is, going through an injury like mine is similar to being born again. You have to learn how to adapt to the world. Just like with regular birth, becoming an IDF Veteran means that you gain another family. The Beit Halochem family.” He spoke of the guidance and the passing down of knowledge he received from the ‘brothers and sisters’ he met at Beit Halochem. Despite his life changing injuries, Eitan considers himself to be lucky. He runs two businesses, travels the world, has two beautiful children and is now part of two families – his own and the Beit Halochem family.
Ziv Better, a Beit Halochem Veteran, who was wounded and blinded following a landmine explosion, gave the pledge speech. Following his injuries, Better started to swim at Beit Halochem and soon reached a competitive level winning several silver and bronze medals at the Paralympic Games. He said: “As the great Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”.
The evening concluded with Beit Halochem UK trustee Daniel Naftalin giving the vote of thanks to all the supporters who play such a crucial role in the success of the charity.
Spencer Gelding, Executive Director of Beit Halochem UK, said afterwards: “I am truly humbled after hearing from Loai and Eitan this evening. Despite their life changing injuries, they spoke of pride, happiness, being grateful, having families and successful businesses. This is the true essence of Beit Halochem – an upbeat, positive and unique environment where veterans achieve, make lifelong friendships and go on to do amazing things with their lives.”