The Chabad Israel Center of the Upper East Side recently honored dozens of IDF soldiers who were wounded in action in the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead. The soldiers visited New York City, Washington, D.C., Long Island and Niagara Falls.
Ro'i G., one of the wounded soldiers, has gone through more than 20 surgeries in the past year. Suffering from constant pain, he is scheduled to undergo yet another surgery this week. The trip was therefore a welcome break. “It was an amazing opportunity for me to heal, and to forget all the treatments and rehabilitation waiting for me back home,” he said.
Another of the soldiers, Eitan K., was hit in his leg and spent more than a year in the hospital. Doctors removed metal pins from his legs just last week.
The highlight of the trip was meeting American Jews, Eitan recalled. “There was a Friday night Shabbat meal, and more than 300 members of the community came. I was overjoyed,” he said. “It was amazing to see how much they respect us and honor us.”
Ben S., who was wounded in Cast Lead, was accompanied by his father on the trip. His father came in order to help Ben, who lost one arm and whose other arm is paralyzed, to perform basic tasks.
"We toured Manhattan, and saw the sites in Washington, we saw the Niagara Falls... but for me, the most moving place we saw was the grave of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Queens,” said Ben. At they stopped at the grave Ben used tefillin for the first time since he was wounded. “Tefillin is what saved my life in Gaza,” he stated.