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hood with individual tailored programs, designed to help participants reach their full potential and integrate into the community. Inspired by the willingness of soldiers to participate, Shai later decided to volunteer at Shalva, in an effort to mirror what those Israeli soldiers had once done for him and give back to the people of Israel. Having personally experienced how a child can be expected to overcome challenges that would try an adult, Shai has added empathy for the children of Shalva. “Shalva doesn’t see children with disabilities. No. They see superheroes that just need to conquer some challenges. After volunteering at Shalva myself, I have come to realize that we’re all the same:

potential heroes trying to overcome our struggles.” Shai was awarded with the Shalva Spirit of Hope award in recognition of how he had met his personal challenges and used that experience to help others. From a 40 year prospective, the Entebbe rescue mission became a milestone event for the State of Israel. The nation was at its peak, proving to the world that the Jewish people can and will conquer terror. Generations of youth have been inculcated with this message, empowering Jews throughout the world to believe in themselves, the power of prayer, and the State of Israel. Indeed, Shai, the youngest hostage at Entebbe, has carried this message with him through-

out his life. His passion for giving is a symbol of how the Jewish nation has endured and has come out stronger throughout the generations.

The writer, a 25-year veteran of the I.D.F., served as a field mental health officer and Commander of the Central Psychiatric Military Clinic for Reserve Soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty, he provides consultancy services to NGO’s implementing Psycho trauma and Psychoeducation programs to communities in the North and South of Israel and is a strategic advisor to the Chief Foreign Envoy of Judea and Samaria. He can be reached at

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Shai’s second passion and need to help others has been with the children of the organization Shalva, an NGO dedicated to helping children with major disabilities. For Shai, the moment when the unbelievable happens before your very eyes, when the darkness is suddenly transformed to light, such as Shai experienced in Entebbe, is also a familiar occurrence in the Shalva center in Jerusalem. For 26 years, Shalva has been helping children with special needs move beyond their limitations. Shalva programs and services are designed to provide individual treatment for the child while strengthening the fabric of the family. The program accompanies each child from birth to adult-


upon being released. For that reason alone, Shai used his public name and status with Israel’s former President Shimon Peres (who served as Defense Minister at the time of Entebbe), and with Esther Wachsman, the mother of Nachshon Wachsman Hy”d; he used all of his personal powers of persuasion to help a fellow Jew be released from captivity. Upon Gilad’s release in October 2011, Shai befriended Gilad, opening up his home and helping him with the long rehabilitative process that awaited him. Today Shai and Gilad are good friends and meet occasionally, sustaining their relationship with an understanding that they share a unique yet similar life experience.

Baltimore Jewish Home - 3-22-18  

Baltimore Jewish Home - 3-22-18

Baltimore Jewish Home - 3-22-18  

Baltimore Jewish Home - 3-22-18