Hello From Jerusalem
From Yossi's desk (Yossi Tanuri, Director General, UIA Canda)
Nine years after he was injured in a terror incident at the Maxim Restaurant in Haifa, losing his sight and almost his entire family, Oren Almog completed his basic training and was sworn into the IDF. “I am proud to serve an organization, whose main goal is to defend the State of Israel, prevent terror attacks and to protect its citizens” Pvt. Almog proudly said.
The hundreds of people attending the IDF swearing-in ceremony could barely control their pride and excitement as they watched the young blind soldier standing very still, without a cane or Seeing Eye dog, pledging his allegiance to the Israel Defense Force.
“I want my father and grandfather to be proud that I enlisted. I was educated by them to give back and contribute. Had I not enlisted, I would have felt a terrible loss of a wonderful opportunity. I am extremely proud that I have decided to take on this challenge and to serve my country and people."
Regardless of his blindness, Oren fully completed the basic training required for all volunteers and was immediately recruited for a classified assignment.
We, at the Canadian Federations, met Oren immediately following his injury. We were involved in his rehabilitation and grew to know this young man who became the symbol of the second intifada and the fight against terror. Despite his blindness, Oren insisted on being treated just like the rest of his friends. He studied at the Hebrew Reali School in Haifa and competed in many competitive sailing events.
The terror incident which blinded Oren, claimed 21 lives and left 48 injured. His entire family was almost demolished. His grandfather, grandmother, father, brother and cousin were all killed, and Oren’s mother and sister were injured.
I decided to bring you this story, not only to tell you of this extraordinary and brave young man. The very day that Oren’s enlistment was brought to my attention was the day that thousands of high school seniors decided to strike and be heard. Their strike followed a large demonstration organized by young reservists directly affected by the TAL Law, which is up for the Government’s approval once again.
The Tal Law annually releases tens of thousands of members of the ultra-religious community from serving in the military. This gap in manpower leaves both the enlisted soldiers and reservists to bear the extra burden. Their entire lives are impacted as their families, studies, businesses and finances all suffer.
When I awoke this morning and saw Oren’s story throughout the media, it gave me renewed hope. It reminded me that there are still many out there, who although they do not have to serve, see it as one of their highest priorities and most important contribution that they can offer toward the continuity and security of our State and our people.
Have a nice week - "Shavuah Tov"