David Paterson, who was sworn in on Monday as the governor of New York, is no stranger to Israel. Paterson was among a group of senators and state representatives who recently visited the country, where they learned about solar energy, toured southern communities and visited the Negev branch of Aleh, an international organization that cares for Israel's disabled. The participants in the December 2007 visit, which was organized by the American Jewish Committee, had come to observe and learn from the success of Aleh. They were given an in-depth tour of the organization's Negev branch and were shown workshops offering young people an opportunity to develop creative skills and work on arts and crafts. The group hoped to glean insights on how to apply these occupational therapy techniques and opportunities for their special-needs population back home. Maj.-Gen. (res.) Doron Almog, who is chairman of Aleh Negev, told The Jerusalem Post that he'd spent time speaking with Paterson. "He's a special person," said Almog. "He's clever, has a love for Israel and cares about people with disabilities." Paterson, who is legally blind and a leading advocate for the visually and physically impaired, was especially moved by the efforts of Aleh Negev. According to Almog, Paterson said the climax of the trip had been the delegation's visit to the Negev campus, and that they had a lot to learn from Israel about caring for the disabled. From Aleh Negev, the group was taken to a lookout point over the northern Gaza Strip, where the American politicians received firsthand information about the situation in the South. "We gave them a lecture on our war against terror, the disengagement and the situation with Kassams," Almog said. "[Paterson] expressed his support for the citizens of Sderot and the southern Negev, and our fight against terrorism." While the delegation's time here was limited, they were exposed to many of the country's current issues. Paterson "came to learn about solar energy and people with disabilities," said Almog. "And he also gained an understanding of our security situation. In my opinion, he has a warm spot in his heart for Israel."