PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN holds the citation for encouragement, initiative and social responsibility alongside Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, January 28, 2016.
(photo credit: MARK NEYMAN / GPO)
Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, executive director of the National Council for the Child, on Thursday was the first recipient of a citation for encouragement, initiative and social responsibility introduced by President Reuven Rivlin.
The citation was given in recognition of Kadman’s decades of devoted activity on behalf of children regardless of status, nationality, religion or ethnicity.
He has directed the council since 1986.
Rivlin said that since coming into office he has presented awards to numerous people, most of whom he did not know, or even if he did know them, he was not familiar with their histories, but had presented the award on the recommendation of various official bodies.
In Kadman’s case it was different, he said, because he has been familiar with Kadman’s work for the past 30 years and believes that what Kadman is doing is vital for the benefit of society. There are people who swim against the tide in order to correct the injustices of society, and they are not always recognized, said Rivlin, indicating that Kadman belongs to this category.
“Society must protect its children,” Rivlin insisted, saying that Kadman heads one of the most important organizations in the country. While it is common to refer to children as the nation’s future, Rivlin remarked that “children are not just the future. They are the present.”
Baruch Levy, one of the founders of the National Council for the Child and its predecessor, the President’s Council for the Welfare of the Child, said that Kadman was the right man in the right place and highly deserving of being the first person to receive the presidential citation. (Another co-founder was Ofira Navon, wife of then-president Yitzhak Navon.) Levy and others mentioned that ever since coming into office, Rivlin and his wife, Nechama, have concerned themselves with child welfare and have introduced a number of activities for children within the presidential compound.
Levy said that he had known Kadman since the days when the latter was secretary of the Israel Social Workers Union, and had followed his career when he went to Brandeis University to get his doctorate. Levy is also a Brandeis alumnus.
When Kadman returned to Israel some 35 years ago, Levy recruited him for what is now the National Council for the Child. Levy praised Kadman’s ability to communicate and cited his degrees and experience in public policy and social work. Levy also praised the staff of the council, saying that they approached their jobs with a sense of mission.
Kadman said that he was accepting the citation with mixed feelings. He had run away from honors all his life, he said, because honors are blinding. On the one hand he realized the importance of recognition, but said that the honor did not belong to him alone but to the President’s Residence in which the council or rather its forerunner was conceived; to Rivlin and his wife who have given so much thought and attention to children, to his colleagues in the council “who are no less deserving than I, not just the employees but also the volunteers who give limitless love and devotion to children.”
More than anything else, said Kadman, he sees himself as the voice for children who are unable to speak for themselves. He then went through a long list of examples of such children including Jews, Arabs, Beduin, Palestinians, refugees, abandoned, neglected, sexually abused, poverty stricken, victims of terrorism, sick from birth, special needs, injured, etc., naming each child and describing what had befallen the child. It was to them, he said, that he wanted to dedicate the citation.