Inclusion of Heroes

Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion once said: “Israel has created a new image of the Jew in the world — the image of a working and an intellectual people, of a people that can fight with heroism.”

A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.

The following is a most inspiring story of real-life heroism.

In 1998, one-year-old Shachar L. was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, an incurable neurological disorder that affects body movement and muscle coordination but does not interfere with the ability to learn.

Eilat

me and Shay

Shachar has steadfastly refused to let his disability affect his dream. Driven by a deep desire to integrate into Israeli society and at his parents’ insistence, Shachar attended high school with non-disabled students and graduated with honors. He his endowed with incredible motivation and need to serve his country and become an active part of the society they live in. The day he got his letter saying that he needs to report for the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) initial tests and medical exam was one of the most exciting of his life. But immediately after arriving at the base, Shachar was told that he was exempt due to medical reasons. That wasn’t what he wanted to hear. He wanted to serve and Special in Uniform was there to help him achieve that. Special in Uniform, a partner of Jewish National Fund-USA, is a program which integrates young people with autism and other disabilities into the IDF and, in turn, into Israeli society.

Shachar’s case was a big challenge for us and there were many problems along the way. As a result of a severe disability, he is bound to a wheelchair and the IDF base is not accessible. He is also nonverbal, and communicates by using his iPad. With the encouragement and support of Alan Wolk, a JNF leader in the U.S., Special in Uniform began work to make basses across Israel accessible and, after few months of preparation, Shachar was ready and able to become a soldier in the IDF.

Today, Shachar not only serves his country, he protecting his city, his family, his home. He serves in an intelligence unit near Eilat—his home town! Eilat, is located at the southern-most tip of Israel, wedged between Egypt and Jordan. Due to its popularity among tourists, its location and the airport it operates, Eilat is full of threats. Shachar’s unit uses satellite imagery and maps to understand Israel’s geographical landscape and defend its borders. The soldiers all have an incredible responsibility to provide information to soldiers ahead of combat mission to help gather invaluable intelligence that protects Israel’s borders in the south.

Last week, during his visit in Eilat, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met Shachar and was very touch by the story, and said to him: “You are a hero.”

About the Author
Lt. Col. (Res.) Tiran Attia is the director of Special in Uniform, a very unique program, operating in partnership with Jewish National Fund (JNF) to integrate young people with autism and other disabilities into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and, in turn, into Israeli society. Tiran was born in Israel in 1967. During a distinguished 28 year career in the IDF, he was IDF tank commander, commander of the IDF's Technology and logistics forces training program for army logistics cadets. His last position in the IDF was as a Commander of the Sar-El program for army volunteers.
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