Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Saluting Doron Almog, military hero and champion for the disabled, for Israel Prize win


Major General (Res.) Doron Almog at Aleh Negev. 

Major General (Res.) Doron Almog, one of the heroes of the famous Operation Entebbe and founder of Aleh Negev-Nahalat Eran, a Jewish National Fund partner and world-class rehabilitative village for the disabled in southern Israel, has been awarded the 2016 Israel Prize for lifetime achievement and exceptional contribution to the nation. 

The annual prize is awarded to Israeli citizens or organizations that have displayed excellence in the fields of the humanities, social sciences, and Jewish studies; the natural and exact sciences; culture, arts, communication; and sports. 

"JNF is proud to be a disabilities and special-needs program partner with Doron Almog," said Russell F. Robinson, JNF's chief executive officer. "His amazing accomplishment of building Aleh Negev-Nahalat Eran has made an incredible difference in countless lives, and we salute his efforts, dreams, vision, and enduring commitment. His brilliant and compassionate spirit defines the people of Israel."

Almog was the first Israel Defense Forces commander to land on the tarmac during the famous 1976 Operation Entebbe in Uganda. His son, Eran, was born with severe autism and developmental disabilities, and lived at Aleh Negev until he passed away in 2007 at the age of 23. After his death, Aleh Negev was renamed Aleh Negev-Nahalat Eran in his memory.

Major General Doron Almog 
and his wife, Didi. 
"Gen. Doron Almog is both an Israeli hero and a social hero," Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett said. "He has risked his life for the security of Israel and devoted his life for the sake of our society."

Aleh Negev-Nahalat Eran is a 25-acre, state-of-the-art rehabilitative village in Israel’s Negev desert that offers unparalleled care for people with severe disabilities in a warm, loving, and dignified environment. 

The village provides patients with a wide variety of innovative treatments including hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, shiatsu, music therapy, animal therapy, and crafts workshops. Residents also benefit from occupational training, special education, and programs that encourage social interaction with family and peers. Aleh Negev has set a new benchmark in the fields of special education and rehabilitative services, and is being closely studied by experts from around the world.

On hearing that he won the award, Gen. Almog said, "My son, Eran, truly deserves this prize. He was born with a severe traumatic brain injury. He never spoke and never got the chance to call me 'dad.' However, he was the greatest teacher I've ever had. Eran taught me about caring for our disabled, and that is the work that I must continue."

JNF supports this remarkable village as part of its Blueprint Negev initiative, which is transforming southern Israel into a strong, prosperous region for the benefit of all Israelis. JNF’s assistance also goes toward building new therapeutic facilities, including a petting zoo and hydrotherapy pool; funding workshops and programs; developing green spaces designed to stimulate the senses of residents; and expanding Aleh Negev’s residential facilities to accommodate the growing number of people on its waiting list.

“Seeing young children with disabilities playing at Aleh Negev is something I will never forget,” said Alan Wolk of Atlanta, co-president of JNF's Board of Directors of the Southeast and a member of JNF's Task Force on Disabilities who recently visited Aleh Negev
 on JNF's $1 Billion Dollar Roadmap Mission. "I will also never forget the way their parents looked at them while they played, with a sense of hope and thankfulness. Hope, that their kids will someday have a level of normalcy, and thankfulness for Aleh Negev's amazing care."

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