New IDF Recruit With Cerebral Palsy Lauded for Insisting on Serving Country
The induction into the IDF on Monday of an Eilat resident with cerebral palsy was celebrated with great fanfare, Israel’s Channel 10 reported.
According to the report, Shai Levy, who graduated from high school at the beginning of the summer, insisted on donning a military uniform like the rest of his peers. He was paid special tribute by the mayor of his city, the commander of the naval base where he and six other special-needs men and women will serve together and the chairman of Gedolim Bemadim (“Special in Uniform”), a program enabling Israelis with disabilities to serve in the IDF.
At a moving induction ceremony, Levy was praised for never having let his condition prevent him from living life to the fullest. As Channel 10 reported, Levy attended a regular school and always participated in the activities of his classmates, including annual trips — such as the one to Poland to see and learn about the Nazi concentration camps — and dancing on stage with everybody else at his graduation party.
In his address to the new soldier, Eilat’s mayor called Levy a source of strength and inspiration for those around him.
Within the framework of Gedolim Bemadim — run by the organization Yad LaYeled HaMeyuchad (“Lend a Hand to a Special Child”) — there are 256 young people with special-needs serving at 15 army bases around Israel.
“The idea is that this is mutually beneficial to the IDF and the special-needs volunteers, who will gain satisfaction and develop long-term life skills that will help them integrate into society as a whole and in the labor force,” said Ariel Almog, the head of the program.
Gedolim Bamadim was established in 2005.