For five-year-old Chaim Aviel Beckman of Karmiel, playing with a plush elephant
toy is a matter of life and death.
“The elephant lives, the elephant
lives,” he said, according to his mother’s friend Yochi, a staff member at aid
organization Yad Ezra V’Shulamit, which is helping to make sure that Chaim
Aviel, too, lives.
“He was at my house and played with my children’s
toys,” Yochi told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday night. “I saw that every day is
critical for him.”
Chaim Aviel found out earlier this year that he
suffers from a rare blood disorder called Fanconi anemia, for which he urgently
needs a bone marrow transplant, as his own fails to produce blood cells. To find
a match – as none was found among his two little sisters or in the Israeli donor
system – approximately 20,000 blood tests needed to be conducted, at a cost of
NIS 170 each, or about NIS 3.5 million in total.
Chaim Aviel has about a
year of life left if he simply continues with his pill regimen.
decided that this urgent problem could only be solved with something as powerful
as the world’s most ubiquitous social networking tool – Facebook.
same day that Chaim Aviel’s mother, Nirit Hakmon Beckman, came into Yochi’s
office at Yad Ezra in Karmiel, Yochi decided that the two of them must launch a
major campaign to save the boy, despite the fact that she had already starting
having contractions ahead of giving birth to a child of her own.
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she gave birth, Yochi managed to capture a video of Beckman speaking about her
son, and immediately after delivery, while still in the hospital, Yochi launched
a Facebook page on the boy’s behalf – a Facebook page that became Beckman’s
“hope,” her lifeblood, according to Yochi, and has accumulated over 25,000
“likes” and more than NIS 350,000 in contributions.
But all that
mysteriously vanished on Thursday, as the Facebook page suddenly disappeared
from the Internet, and carried Beckman’s hopes away with it.
instantly felt “lost,” as the page was “like a virtual family” to her, according
“I was sure that it wouldn’t return,” Beckman told the
But on Thursday evening, Channel 2 aired a report on Chaim Aviel’s
case and the disappearance of the Facebook page, and Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu was watching.
“The prime minister was very much moved by what
happened and he instructed me to contact Facebook in the United States, and ask
them to do what they can to restore the page,” the Prime Minister’s Office
director of new media, Eitan Eliram, told the Post.
A national government
has a much greater ability to get in contact with the powers-thatbe at Facebook
than an individual, he explained. With the help of the Israeli Embassy new media
team in Washington, the government was able to accomplish just that about six
“The team there understood how important it was to restore
the page, because it was the boy’s life,” Eliram said.
[Beckman’s] entire hope to save her son was connected to the Facebook,” he
continued. “Once this page was removed or vanished, her hope was gone – because
she thought in some way it might be a sign that she would lose her
The page had presumably disappeared due to a technical glitch,
according to Eliram, and he was uncertain whether Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
was directly involved with the fix. But Beckman was shocked when the page
returned and expressed her gratitude that the prime minister became personally
involved. She likened the return of her son’s page to the day in October when
Netanyahu returned Gilad Schalit to his family – in this way, he was also taking
a step to bring her own son back.
“He’s like a magician,” Beckman
Yochi added, “The return of the page brought her
She is really a new person.”
Since the return of the
page, the cause has gained an additional 1,200 “likes.”
Just before she
originally launched the Facebook page in April, Yochi gave birth to a child that
she now connects in her mind with Chaim Aviel – due to the “bonding of woman to
woman” that was created in her instant partnership with Beckman.
“is an angel with a human body,” Beckman said.
Since then, aside from
garnering media coverage, Beckman has distributed flyers, gone from door-to-door
soliciting aid and spoken with children in local schools. There is no one in
Karmiel who is unaware of Chaim Aviel’s circumstances, she said. Through the
Facebook page, Beckman has made instant virtual friendships, and one woman
raised NIS 30,000 for the cause at a private initiative organized unbeknownst to
Beckman at the Yokne’am mall.
“She [Yochi] naturally converted people to
action,” Eliram said. “There’s always this one person who knows how to take the
cause do what’s right in their heart, and move people and convert their
engagement into action in the real world.”
For Beckman, Facebook has an
enormous power to transform ideas into action, something that brings her son one
step closer to the bone marrow transplant that he needs to save his
“We must find the donor and we don’t have time,” she
To learn more about Chaim Aviel’s cause or to send contributions,
visit www.facebook.com/HELP.Chaim.Aviel (English),
www.facebook.com/aviel.bekman (Hebrew), dial *9171 or e-mail
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