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October 26, 2016 12:43 pm

80 Special-Needs Volunteers Graduate IDF Basic Training, Perform Israel’s National Anthem in Sign Language

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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Special-needs Israelis performing Hatikvah in sign language at their IDF basic training graduation. Photo: Screenshot.

Special-needs Israelis performing Hatikvah in sign language at their IDF basic training graduation. Photo: Screenshot.

A whopping 80 special-needs volunteers just completed IDF basic training, and their graduation into the ranks of the Israeli army included a moving ceremony in which the new soldiers performed Hatikvah, the national anthem, in sign language.

According to a video of the occasion, posted on the IDF’s Facebook page, the volunteers — the biggest batch of special-needs draftees to date — “have a wide range of physical and mental disabilities,” and will be serving in various branches of the Israeli military.

As The Algemeiner reported last month, there are currently 256 young people with special needs serving at 15 army bases around Israel — with the latest recruitment bringing that number to well over 300 — in the framework of a program called Gedolim Bemadim (“Special in Uniform”), run by the organization Yad LaYeled HaMeyuchad (“Lend a Hand to a Special Child”).

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“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.

Watch the volunteers sign the national anthem below:

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