On Thursday, December 17, 2020, the seventh day of Chanukah, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin visited ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran, the state-of-the-art residential and rehabilitative village in the south, to light Chanukah candles with the residents – children, adolescents and adults with severe disabilities – and learn how the “Jewel of the Negev” is changing the face of rehabilitative care in Israel and beyond.
Led by the village’s Founder and Chairman Major General (Res.) Doron Almog and Director General Avi Wortzman, and joined by the Head of the Merhavim Regional Council Shay Hajaj, the President toured the expansive village, which has become a home and family for more than 150 individuals with severe disabilities and complex medical conditions, and provides a host of rehabilitative solutions for individuals from all backgrounds and levels of need.
“When we light the eighth and final Chanukah candle, our menorahs shine the brightest, which is the very theme of Chanukah: Each and every person is a small light, but together, we shine bright and strong,” the President said during the Chanukah candle lighting ceremony with a few of the village’s residents and special education students.
“During my visit here today, you all gave me so much hope, so much love, and so much light. It is a light that will provide me with inspiration and strength, not for a day or two, but for many days to come.”
The inspirational tour included a briefing on the serious need for proper rehabilitative care in the Negev region from Dr. Itzhak Siev-Ner, who will serve as the Director of the ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran Neuro-Orthopedic Rehabilitative Hospital upon its completion in 2021.
Dr. Siev-Ner explained that thanks to the support of multiple government ministries, the JNF and international supporters, the hospital will increase the number of Israel’s rehabilitative hospital beds dramatically, bring quality care to the residents of the south, create more housing and jobs in the Negev, and establish the country’s first translational research institute.
In addition to enhancing care at the rehabilitative village through the immediate implementation of research findings, the research will also be shared with hospitals across the country and around the world to improve global best practices.
President Rivlin was also a guest at the village’s inclusive kindergarten, where children born with multiple disabilities and their non-disabled peers are integrated throughout their daily activities to cultivate a sense of empathy and acceptance from a young age.
The teachers explained to the President how this method of early childhood disability education promotes an enhanced understanding of equity and inclusion that the children will carry with them throughout their lives.
The President made a point of thanking Doron Almog, an IDF hero and Israel Prize Laureate, for advocating on behalf of Israel’s most vulnerable citizens and establishing an inclusive community that serves as an example for all of humanity.
“Doron, my dear friend, what a wonderful torch you have lit here, this little slice of godliness. It is a lighthouse of giving, a lighthouse of love, a lighthouse of faith. Here, you do miracles, in these days, at this time, and you know how to light many candles from just one small jug of oil. Thank you for establishing the ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran rehabilitative village, this precious light that guides us all.”
ADI (formerly ALEH Jerusalem and ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran) is Israel’s most comprehensive provider of residential care for individuals with severe disabilities, the leader of the national rehabilitation movement, and an international advocate for disability inclusion, equity and access.
While empowering hundreds of Israel’s most vulnerable citizens – children, adolescents and adults – to advance well beyond their initial prognoses and live happy, dignified, and meaningful lives, ADI is also establishing fully inclusive communities and laying the groundwork for the provision of the highest-level rehabilitative care for all.