15 DECEMBER 2017
Sponsor a puppy for Chanukah
Jewish News 15 December 2017
Israel Guide Dog Centre for the Blind
IN THE BEGINNING…
25 YEARS OF CREATING MIRACLES
A way to ta
Noach Braun dedicates his life to establishing a guide dog training programme in Israel; travels to the US to train as guide dog instructor.
The IGDCB graduates its 100th partnership.
The Lady Elizabeth Kaye Student Centre is built. The IGDCB graduates its 200th partnership.
Norman Leventhal from Pennsylvania invites Noach to meet his family for Chanukah and together they decide to create a guide dog training school in Israel.
Canvelo – the first tandem biking club for blind and sighted riders – is established by Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Moti Regev. The IGDCB purchases an adjacent farm and plans to expand the Centre.
Noach and his wife Orna visit UK Guide Dogs to continue training; they receive support from Anthony Krais, associate chief executive of Jewish Care. Noach qualifies as a guide dog mobility instructor; Orna trains to establish a breeding programme. They return to Israel.
2008 The IGDCB graduates its 300th partnership.
Norman Leventhal starts the fundraising arm of the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind in the US to support the guide dog training programme in Israel. The Israel Guide Dog Center is established and begins operating on 1 January 1991.
The Israel Guide Dog Centre starts in a rented house in Kfar Yedidia, a moshav located next to Netanya. Tillie and Erin, two Labrador retrievers, begin training as the first guide dogs. Alex and Di become the first breeding dogs. Haim Tsur from Jerusalem, a blind violinist, becomes the first guide dog user trained by the centre. Tsur, who died in November, lived with Noach and Orna and received his dog, Tillie.
The centre is established in Beit Oved, on a former agricultural plot, south of Tel Aviv.
The British Friends is established with Anthony Krais as its president. Lady Jacobovits, wife of the Chief Rabbi of the UK, becomes patron of British Friends.
1997 The Israel Guide Dog Centre for the Blind achieves full membership status in the International Guide Dog Federation.
Canadian Friends of IGDCB is established.
“Clicker Training”, a positive reinforcement method is brought to Israel and incorporated into the training programme.
2011 The IGDCB graduates its 400th partnership. 2012
Programme initiated for matching ‘career change dogs” with special needs families. Programme using retired guide dogs and puppies in training begins for blind and visually impaired kindergarten children. The first IGDCB mission to Poland with March of The Living taking six graduates accompanied by their guide dogs and escorts.
2013 Following elimination of the quarantine laws in Great Britain, the first guide dog team from Israel visits the UK. A plaque is unveiled at the Lady Kaye Student Centre in memory of Tamar Perkins, who established the Israel Guide Dog Users’ Association. Blind guitarist Jose Feliciano visits the centre. 2014 The IGDCB graduates its 500th partnership. 2015 The centre receives the prestigious Israeli Midot Seal of Effectiveness for non-profit organisations.
Construction begins on the Eastside campus, which will double the number of guide dog partnerships.
Construction is complete.
lindness brought Ruth and Uri together as friends. The Israel Guide Dog Centre gave them freedom. Brigit Grant heard their story. Like every expectant mother, Ruth Nachshon pictured what life would be like once she had her baby. She thought about the things they would do together and all the places they would see. The future could not have been brighter, but darkness descended quite literally on the day her son Uriya was born. During labour, Ruth went suddenly, completely, and permanently blind. The possibility that it might happen had always been there. Retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary condition had caused her mother, aunt, and sister to go blind, and this terrifying history cast an ominous shadow over Ruth’s prenatal happiness. “It felt like a bomb had gone off,” says Ruth as she recalls the first moments of Uriya’s life and the rollercoaster of emotions as joy and elation were swept away by the deepest sorrow. Ruth knew immediately that she would never see the adorable face of the baby boy she had waited nine months to admire. She would never see his eyes, his tiny hands, or be moved by his first smile. That she could ever come to terms with such a cruelly timed loss of sight was unimaginable. “There was no time to absorb the impact the
loss of vision would have on my life and the complications it had brought to my family, my husband and our relationship. But I had to decide quickly on how to proceed and I chose to continue living.” Ruth also realised that she needed to care for Uriya and she wanted to be the best possible mother because she was haunted by the memories of leading her own mother with her long white cane down a village road. “It felt shameful to me,” she recalled. “I despised the pitying looks she received from people.” Ruth swore, as a young girl, that she would be a different mother – one who would do things for her child but, tragically, she was now faced with identical challenges. Looking after her baby, while her husband, a career soldier in the IDF, worked long hours was tough and she relied on family and friends – or the humiliating white cane – to tap tap her way for errands and take her son to preschool. But then she met Uri Basha, a former clinical social worker turned goat farmer and they connected immediately. Uri had been blinded by shell fragments in Israel’s first Lebanon war, but immediately refused to give up his independence and requested a guide dog. With no guide dog training school available in the 1980s in Israel, Uri had to wait until the Israel Guide Dog Centre for the Blind opened in 1991 to get his first dog Polly, but he didn’t waste the time.
15 December 2017 Jewish News
Israel Guide Dog Centre for the Blind
ake the lead At a rehab facility for injured soldiers, he discovered the joys of horseback riding and began training in competitive riding and was sixth overall in England’s World Paralympics Championships. He also gained a Bachelor’s degree in clinical social work from Tel Aviv University and a Masters in treating addictions and, for several years, counselled private patients and groups. By the time he met Ruth, Uri was tending goats on the farm he shares with his wife, Rachel, their four children, house pets, chickens, and horses. His life was instant inspiration for the young woman who feared she was taking two steps forwards and one step back with her cane and couldn’t believe she would be able to do anything by herself. Encouraged by Uri, Ruth joined the CanVelo Tandem Bike Riding Group and met others who were blind and had learned to cope with their vision loss. Together, they supported her and helped her deal with a new reality, and because Uri had a guide dog, Ruth began thinking in this direction. “I knew it would be a huge step forward and allow me to have independence and mobility,” she says. “A dog would also give me the ability to be the mother that I wanted to be.” The process of getting a guide dog takes time and Ruth realised that eligibility depended on her becoming proficient in basic mobility and cane use. Luckily, Ruth had always been an achiever and holds degrees in human resources, marketing and sales, but when blindness robbed her of her career, she did reflexology at home, while training to become an accomplished dancer, ceramicist and sculptures. If she could do all this and bike and hike, she could acquire the necessary
orientation skills to get a dog. For many years, Uri’s guide dog, Polly, had been his devoted companion and guide. But when she needed to retire, Uri wanted his new dog to be a German Shepherd. As most of the centre’s dogs are Labradors, Golden Retrievers and a first-cross Golden-Lab mix, they turned to their partner organisation in the US – Guiding Eyes for the Blind, and in a “paws-across-the-sea” partnership provided a German Shepherd, bred and nurtured him, and brought him to Israel where he was trained in Hebrew using state-ofthe-art methods specially adapted for the challenging conditions. Triton is practically a native now and Uri couldn’t imagine life without him. “Getting a dog was like taking a prisoner and releasing him from his handcuffs,” says Uri on reflection, and this was how Ruth felt when she was finally partnered with her dog, Roxie. “It was like getting a piece of 24 carat gold “ says the delighted mother. “With Roxie, I can go forward with my life. It’s as if another child was born and if Uria is afraid, he calls for Roxie and when my husband does sport, he takes her along.” For all the family bonding, it is Ruth who needs Roxie most of all and the dog’s presence has helped soften the issue of blindness. “When I am walking with her, I forget that I am blind,” whispers Ruth. “When I lost my sight, I couldn’t imagine taking a train, going on a bus, or ever being by myself. Roxie has changed that, and because of her, there are no obstacles and I don’t have the feeling of loneliness. She is also like a magnet. When I am out with her, people come over to chat as they all want to meet her. But now at last they also see me.”
❝ WHEN I AM
WALKING WITH HER, I FORGET I AM BLIND
A space for the future
THE BUILDER’S DUST has yet to settle at the Israel Guide Dog Centre, but the year ends with a drum roll as the new Puppy Development and Training Campus will be open for business at the start of 2018. Training dogs and raising puppies to the sound of cement mixers wasn’t easy, but increasing the space was critical to significantly expand the number of guide dog partnerships in Israel. The new campus will open a new chapter in the history of the Israel Guide Dog Centre and
allow the charity to reach out to more clients, have a stronger impact on the lives of the blind and visually-impaired in Israel, and enable them to live independent and mobile lives. Construction on the 1.5 acre campus began last December and, although they are still building the new kennels and whelping facilities,
once complete, they will double the capacity and have enrichment and training yards. A logistic support centre is also under construction for the CanVelo Bike Group, maintenance workshop and storage facilities. The expansive campus includes training grounds to help the dogs better learn the tasks they require and to allow students to master the skills they need to work with their guide dogs. Of course, final completion is only possible with more funds and raising them isn’t easy, but we hope that the Festival of Light will provide the necessary miracles to enable us to provide more dogs to people who want to live again. The construction might almost be finished, but once the campus is open, then there is a ‘bedding-in’ period, where systems and services need to be tried and tested and any issues rectified. It might not sound glamourous, but our facilities team, led by Mensahe Kashi, the centre’s operations director, will work long hours every day to get all this completed by the time of the
official grand opening at the beginning of next April. Then there is all the equipment, fixtures and fittings that need to be purchased to put the finishing touches to this amazing new campus. Just by way of encouragement, we wanted to tell you that since Rosh Hashanah 2016, our whelping dogs have given birth to 113 puppies! We would like to congratulate all our mothers, so it’s mazeltov to: Yogi, Carolyn, Valerie, Lika, Valley, Andy, Amy, Chika, Lika, Amber, Nera, Moka, Luli, Topsie, Hope.
Valerie with her pups
Jewish News 15 December 2017
Israel Guide Dog Centre for the Blind
How you can sponsor a puppy for Chanukah SPONSOR A GORGEOUS GUIDE DOG PUPPY from just £5 a week, and watch them grow from a six-week-old bundle of fur to a fully-qualified guide dog. It’s a great way to support the Israel Guide Dog Centre and every puppy’s journey is unique! After 24 months of training, your puppy will give freedom and independence to a blind or visually impaired Israeli.
SPONSOR A PUPPY TODAY AT: israelguidedog.org.uk Click on donate or call 020 8090 3455 and you will receive a certificate and cuddly Labrador toy
And here in the UK… MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, the Israeli Ambassador and a bumper Spinathon were all part of a year of mega fundraising by the UK Friends of IGDCB. “We needed to go big on everything,” explains UK executive director Martin Segal. “The events, activities and mega marketing campaign were crucial to promoting and raising funds for the new Puppy Development and Breeding Campus, which will officially open next April. All of this helped the ‘UK Friends’ of the centre raise well over their projected income for the year.” Things the UK Friends got busy organising included screenings of the films Denial and Murder on the Orient Express, a private bridge day, the Maccabi Fun Run and Spinathon, and a guide dog partnership visit from Israel. Meeting Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev was a highlight, but more for him because he was introduced to Bracha ben Avraham and her guide dog, Dinka, who was the first Israeli guide dog partnership allowed into the UK when quarantine laws were revised. “Fundraising for the new campus has to date raised more than £100,000 and there’s more still coming in now,” says an excited Martin. “We have continued to go into schools and teach children about blindness and what to do if they encounter a blind person and their guide dog. We have also formed a new fundraising and events team made up of a number of volunteers, so if anyone is interested in joining us, I’d love to hear from them.” Not everything a charity does has to be on a
grand scale, and the supporters who held dog walks and other small fundraising activities are appreciated and they raise awareness and funds for the centre. “I must single out one person, though, from all the amazing people who have helped us this year,” adds Martin. “Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg works tirelessly to help us and continuously welcomes us to his shul and his home. He has run the Jerusalem Marathon, participated in the Maccabi Fun Run and asked people to donate towards his special birthday and 30-year anniversary since taking Smicha this year for us, and has single-handedly raised thousands for the centre.” Martin recently attended the launch of his latest book, Things My Dog Has Taught Me About Being a Better Human. “I was humbled to see that in the acknowledgements he had thanked both myself and Noach Braun, our CEO, for our work training guide dogs. How nice is that? “To conclude, I would like to say that as we celebrate the Festival of Lights, let us take a moment to remember those less fortunate people who will never see a menorah, and let us recommit, as I do every year at this time, to helping them, as best we can, have a life of independence and self-esteem with a faithful friend by their side.”
• Come and meet a guide dog at Limmud this month
CHAG CHANUKAH SAMEACH TO ALL OUR FRIENDS AND SUPPORTERS