Wounded Soldiers Treated to a VIP Trip to the U.S.

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wounded-israeli-soldiersIt all started off as a normal June day for Kfir Levy, a sniper in the Givati Brigade. As he was standing guard at the Jewish community of Netzarim in Gaza, he sustained a near direct hit from a rocket propelled grenade fired by a terrorist. His face and head absorbed the majority of the shrapnel. With his body broken and mangled, Kfir lay in a coma for two months in Soroka Medical Center, in critical condition. To date he has had 132 surgeries.

Kfir Levy’s story is that of Israel’s wounded. Risking their lives on the battlefield to defend the Jewish state, these soldiers have paid nearly the ultimate price for their service. Long after the battle has subsided and news crews have gone back to their scheduled programming, Israel’s wounded continue to recuperate and adjust to their newfound realities.

Now in its second year, B’lev Echad, sponsored by the Chabad Israel Center of New York City in coordination with the Chabad Terror Victims Program of Israel (CTVP), invites a group of Israel’s wounded soldiers on an elaborate vacation to the U.S. where they are wined and dined, and frequently reminded that their sacrifice is not forgotten.

“More than we can ever give them, they have given us,” said Rabbi Uriel Vigler of the Chabad Israel Center who raised $100,000 to cover the all-expenses paid 10-day tour that would “make them smile, give them a reason to feel some joy.”

“The idea is to give these individuals who have given us so much, a chance to forget their daily grind of therapy and medical routines,” said Rabbi Menachem Kutner, director of CTVP, who is personally acquainted with the soldiers and the suffering they endure.

This year’s trip took the soldiers from the shores of Ellis Island to the heights of the Empire State Building. The tour included an excursion to Washington D.C. with a private reception by Israel’s ambassador at the Israeli Embassy.

They were pampered in a luxurious home in the Hampton’s with private chefs. On Shabbos, nearly one thousand Jews came to show support.

At the farewell party this week Avichai Mumbaram summed it up. “In Israel we are treated like everybody else. We get used to the fact that we are wounded and just get on with our lives. Here in Manhattan we are made to feel like we are special. We realize the people care about our sacrifices. And that to us means the world.”

See below for photos:

{Matzav.com/Photos by Bentzi Sasson}


  1. What a wonderful program.

    Just as we treat the ill, terminal diseases at least some kindness should and is given to these messengers of Hashem, who put their lives on the line. THank you.

  2. I don’t think that this is a reason to leave Eretz Yisrael (Mishna Berura 531:14, Aruch HaShulchan Orech Chaim 531:5). Besides, when someone shows appreciation he goes to the person he is thanking. They should have brought American Jews to Israel -at least for a visit.

  3. When someone shows appreciation, they thank the person in the way that they’d appreciate being thanked. (I don’t think they’d have appreciated having someone come say thank you quite as much!) Giving these wounded soldiers a paid for vacation is such a wonderful idea… The chayalim (wounded and well BH) give up so much – giving them this opportunity gives them chizuk that their hard work is really appreciated.

    Yaasher Koach!

  4. Cheer up and be positive. It will help you be a happier person and a Dugma Chaya to those around you.

    An observer in Melbourne, Australia


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