The local community recently had an opportunity to learn about Jewish National Fund’s Special in Uniform program, an innovative program which aims to integrate youth with disabilities into the Israel Defense Forces and assist in preparing them for careers after their army service.
Lt. Col. (Res.) Tiran Attia, the director of this program, spoke about it at both Chabad at the Grove in Miami and Beth David Congregation in Miami. From 2004-14, Attia served as Commander of “Sar-El” – The IDF National Project for Volunteers. The program was responsible for the promotion of Jewish continuity, creating cultural and educational exchanges between the diaspora and Israel and promoting aliyah.
“I am so proud that I have that ability to give to others,” Attia said in an interview. “It is Israeli pride to give to others and I’m really lucky that I can give to others. If I can give of myself and my knowledge to others, why not do it? We hope that we’re always in a position to give and I hope that everyone is a position to give.”
Jonathan Pelman, a disabled Hollywood resident who was inspired by the presentation and looking into the program, said: “This gives us an opportunity to be able to bring people together, to understand what Judaism is all about and to know that we have the opportunity to show the world what a Jewish lifestyle is all about. We have the opportunity to really expand our minds for the better and for the good.”
Jeffrey Greenberg, JNF’s Miami-Dade director, said: “We have a number of different core projects that we work with in Israel and one of it is special needs inclusion and this particular program is a special program to help include those with special needs in the IDF.”
Greenberg added: “The main thing we want to preach here is that Israel is a special society of inclusion and that everyone has a part to play and an equal role in Israeli society. This is a one-of kind program in the world. It’s a level of inclusion that most societies don’t have. It’s very unique.”
The event at Chabad at the Grove was also co-sponsored by United Hatzalah, a volunteer-based emergency medical services (EMS) organization based in Jerusalem, and Avenue J. The Beth David event was co-sponsored by the congregation’s Tikvah Center.
Visit jnf.org/work-we-do/our-projects/tourism-recreation/disabilities-and-special-needs/disabilities-special-needs.html for more information on the program or to make a donation.