New York Jewry comes out in support of Israel, IDF

Guests from across the US were introduced to young Israeli soldiers and security officers who were gravely wounded during their service yet returned to life.

 GALA HEROES in New York.  (photo credit: BELEV ECHAD)
GALA HEROES in New York.
(photo credit: BELEV ECHAD)

As the capital reels from a series of bombings, New York City's Jewish community came out in force on Monday night for the Belev Echad organization, supporting wounded-in-action (WIA) IDF veterans and security forces. 

The annual gala dinner - called "Our Soldiers, Our Heroes" - benefited Belev Echad's work rehabilitating those they term WIA from the physical and emotional trauma of war and terror.

Featuring Israeli actors from the Fauda and Tehran series, guests from across the US were introduced to the true stars - young soldiers and security officers who were gravely wounded during their service yet returned to life, in some cases, learning to walk again despite the odds, and now use their experiences to effect positive change.

Meeting Israeli soldiers who return to normal life despite being severely wounded

One way they do this? Through tours to college campuses across America where antisemitism is ever growing, telling the real story and showing the real people behind it, and the price they paid. 

At the dinner, spotlighted stories included that of Raz Mizrachi, who in May 2021 at the height of Operation Guardian of the Walls, was deployed to the flashpoint east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. A terrorist weaponized a car and drove into a police roadblock, plowing directly into six officers and soldiers, running them over with intent to kill. Mizrachi was badly injured in the attack and spent the next four months in intensive rehab.

RABBI URIEL and Shevy Vigler, cofounders of Belev Echad.  (credit: BELEV ECHAD)RABBI URIEL and Shevy Vigler, cofounders of Belev Echad. (credit: BELEV ECHAD)

“From a talented athlete who could run ten miles without losing my breath, I needed to learn how to walk again. Ten steps with excruciating pain was an accomplishment.”

Raz Mizrachi

“From a talented athlete who could run ten miles without losing my breath, I needed to learn how to walk again. Ten steps with excruciating pain was an accomplishment,” she shared.

Aside from the physical rehabilitation, Mizrachi also required intensive emotional therapy and psychiatric intervention to recuperate emotionally from the fear, anxiety and depression that followed. She explained with great emotion how Belev Echad helped bring her back to a new life, with emotional support from fellow WIA also helped by the organization.

As former soldier Eli Chazzan put it, the WIA "felt the embrace of New York's Jewish community". The funds will go toward assisting the IDF veterans in furthering their education and bolstering them through the process of finding jobs.

The gala capped off a 10-day trip sponsored by Belev Echad in which soldiers got to meet some of the New York donors and be treated to excursions such as helicopter rides and a visit to the New York Stock Exchange.