A 94-year-old man and an 89-year-old woman were among the recipients of the
President’s Prize for Volunteerism at a ceremony held on Wednesday at the
David Shporer of Jerusalem and Hannah Laor of Tel
Aviv are living evidence that one is never too old to give of oneself and to do
Shporer, the recipient of several awards in recognition of
the various projects that he founded, funded and developed, has not concentrated
on a single element of society, but worked among different sectors. These
include helping young people with learning disabilities to achieve results that
enabled them to go to university; enabling young people from difficult
socioeconomic backgrounds to find jobs and take themselves out of the cycle of
poverty; creating a special playground for physically challenged children at Yad
Sarah; establishing a means of providing week-long vacations for elderly
Jerusalemites who do not have the wherewithal to pay for a holiday; and
generally caring for the poor and the infirm.
Hannah Laor, one of the
founders of Ilan, the Foundation for Handicapped Children, which now assists
thousands of children and adults suffering physical disabilities and
neuro-muscular disorders, continues to serve as chairwoman of the Tel Aviv
branch of Ilan. She still personally deals with the disabled and their families,
visiting them in their homes and doing whatever she can to take care of their
needs. Laor has been a volunteer for 75 years, starting with new immigrants to
whom she taught hygiene in the nascent years of the state, courting danger by
traveling at night through the Jerusalem corridor.
Following the polio
epidemic of the 1950s, Laor dedicated the bulk of her volunteer efforts to
children who had been left with walking disabilities as a result.
prizes were also awarded. Aida and Shmuel Grauman of Beersheba, have for years
kept an open home to youth-at-risk and in 1996 took in three sisters, who they
raised over a 17-year period, providing for all their needs.
sisters are now serving in the IDF.
Luai Abu Swed, a Beduin from the
Galilee, served as a teacher in the IDF’S Education Unit and continues to serve
as a reservist helping young Beduin soldiers to become absorbed in the IDF and,
following their discharge, helps them to find their places in Israeli society.
From the time that he was 18 years old Abu Swed has been a voluntary driver for
Magen David Adom. During the Second Lebanon War in 2006 he often risked his own
life on life-saving missions.
Sheikh Suleman Abu Fares promotes tolerance
and coexistence and has dedicated himself to honoring and preserving the
memories of fallen soldiers in the Druse community.
He is an active
member of Yad Lebanim and on Remembrance Day for the Fallen each year opens his
home to the families and friends of fallen Druse soldiers.
Ben-Naim, a former Rotary governor in Israel, a former president of Rotary
Migdal Ha’emek and chairman of the Association of Immigrants from North Africa,
is the best-known volunteer in the Jezreel Valley. In 1984, he founded an
organization for the benefit of children with cancer, and with funds raised over
the years, has enabled the treatment of different kinds of cancer in children at
the Emek Medical Center.
Adam Fish, a lawyer, is a fervent advocate for
human rights who believes that all people are entitled to legal representation.
Aware that not everyone who needs a lawyer can afford one, he founded a pro-bono
network and takes on a lot of pro-bono cases himself, as do other lawyers
working in his office.
Fish also gives free legal advice to novice
Five organizations were also listed among the
Or Lemishpacha counsels, comforts and supports bereaved
families and provides numerous social, cultural and sporting activities for them
so that they can gradually return to their normal life styles.
Lerefuah is an organization dedicated to saving lives and assisting the sick and
disabled by collecting and distributing surplus medications.
volunteers across the country collect surplus medicines from people who no
longer need them and bring them to those who do.
They average 3,000
deliveries of medicine each month.
Over the past five years, Haverim
Lerefuah has collected and distributed medicines to the estimated value of NIS
Unistream was founded in 2001 by hi-tech entrepreneur Rony
Zarom. He initiated a project called Educating Tomorrow’s Leaders with a view to
creating an ethical, social, democratic and business oriented leadership to
emerge from disadvantaged communities, promoting social change and developing a
circle of success, mutual respect, tolerance help for others, and values of
coexistence while encouraging young people to realize their
Unistream has 550 volunteers from Israel’s business world who
are experts in their respective fields, and have made major contributions to the
They act as mentors, conduct workshops and are role
models for the project.
Or Shalom is an organization that helps
youth-at-risk by proving residential and therapeutic services for neglected or
abused youngsters who have been removed from their homes by social welfare
authorities. They are placed in loving family environments in foster homes or in
foster therapy homes or therapeutic family group homes run by married couples
with children of their own and room in their hearts.
is also a prize for a young volunteer.
Avior Avraham Abutbul, 18, from
Dimona, has been engaged in a variety of volunteer activities from a very young
age, especially in matters of green leadership.
He has volunteered for a
series of social welfare projects under the auspices of the Dimona Municipality,
including unpleasant tasks like picking up garbage in order to keep the city
All the honorees were called to the stage to receive their prize
trophy from President Shimon Peres. When it came to Shpora's turn, the president
said: “Stay where you are. I'll come down to you. I'm younger than you
The comment elicited a burst of laughter throughout the hall, but
Shpora declined the offer and insisted on going up to the stage like everyone
else. He merited a huge cheer from the crowd.
Always impressed by the
high and wide ranging level of volunteerism in Israel, Peres told the honorees:
“You act in accordance with your conscience without orders from above…You have
contributed a great deal to build a desirable society. You give to everyone
without discrimination, but most of all you give to those who are unable to fend
for themselves. You don’t wait for legislation to be passed or budgets to be
authorized. You just go ahead and do it.”