Izzy Ezagui, an American-born Israeli soldier wounded in 2008 while on active duty, shared his story with a group of friends of FIDV in Boca Raton on March 31, 2013. Ezagui as a young adult determined to make Aliyah, and to do something important by protecting Israel. It was completely fitting that we held this event during Passover, when we reflect on the Exodus from slavery. He addressed a room filled with people who came to hear our speaker’s experiences and to learn more about how they could help the organization. Ezagui described his service, his wounding, and how he was helped by Beit Halochem. His presentation was hosted by our Boca Raton chair, Judy Hirsch, a longtime ally and supporter, in her beautiful home.<!–more–>
“I was not afraid. I trained in a combat unit”, he said. When a mortar shell exploded less than a meter from him, he lost his left hand up to the elbow. “What I remember most from when this happened: the faces of my friends looking at me, scared for me… I wanted to help, wherever I was needed, and that’s what I did. I don’t feel bad about this at all. No regrets!”
Izzy Ezagui became a regular at the Beit Halochem in Jerusalem as part of his recovery and rehabilitation. “Beit Halochem is a terrific place, a place to come to let off steam, to get in shape, to be with other people who understand – and live – in my situation. You become stronger mentally and physically at Beit Halochem, and you are part of a community of healing. You find an inner strength you never knew you had, and you take nothing for granted.”
Ella Levine, national director of FIDV in America, explained her commitment to Israel and its wounded veterans: “As a child of Holocaust survivors, I grew up in a home in Soviet Lithuania without having a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or cousins. I knew that a day would come when we would have to leave, again, as my mother used to say. But if we will be lucky, we will leave for a place where nobody will be afraid to be called ‘a Jew’. It was in Israel that I learned what it meant to be one among equals; it is there that I faced, at a very young age, the meaning of living and being an Israeli citizen,” Levine remarked.
It is in Israel that people like Izzy, and 51,000 other disabled veterans, depend on us. These are the men and women who fought for all of us, and now, with much pride and honor, are trying to heal and return to the community. There are many ways to help a veteran restart an education, learn a trade, find a profession, navigate the complex world of disability. We also can teach the spouses and children of our wounded veterans to embrace a new reality in their lives. What I am asking you to do now is to become a friend, a supporter, a partner of FIDV as we support the work of Beit Halochem in Israel.
The same love an enthusiasm for Israel and her disabled veterans was evident at the home of our Boynton Beach chair, Al Ben Ness, his wife Haviva, and a group of committee members, all volunteers, came to talk about plans and activities for 2013-2014. They, too, have been involved for many years, trying to spread the word about FIDV-Beit Halochem, educate people about the organization and its needs, and raise money for different projects and centers.
“We need to bring our name into a much broader audience, we need every new friend we can reach out to,” Al Ben Ness emphasized. “Tell your friends and family about helping our veterans – they deserve it”.
No matter where you live, you can be part of a group supporting Friends of Israel Disabled Veterans-Beit Halochem. Please contact Ella Levine, National Executive Director and we will help you start a group!