Chief Ashkenazic Rabbi David Lau visited the Beit Halokhem rehabiliation center for wounded IDF veterans in Haifa on Thursday, ahead of Israel's Memorial Day next Monday.
Rabbi Lau himself is a major in the IDF reserves, serving in the Intelligence Corps. He made the visit upon the request of the IDF Wounded Veterans Organization's chairperson Haim Bar, asking him to see the facility and give a lecture on Judaism.
In visiting the site, Rabbi Lau was given a tour by the organization's Haifa and North District Chairman Rafi Cohen-Tzemah who manages the center. Cohen-Tzemah demonstrated the various rehabilitory activities veterans can access.
"I was happy for the opportunity to visit here and discover a mammoth project," remarked Rabbi Lau. "I see that here you give your whole hearts for the wounded IDF veterans."
The chief rabbi gave a lecture on the connection between the Jewish holidays and the wounded veterans; veterans in attendance said afterwards that the rabbi's words were fascinating and lifted their spirits.
Rabbi Lau noted that in his previous post as Chief Rabbi of Modi'in he honored wounded veterans by having them called up first in the synagogue on the Shabbat when the Torah portion of "Vayishlach" is read. As chief rabbi, he declared that Shabbat as an official day to honor wounded veterans last November.
After the event, Rabbi Lau pledged to continue working to support wounded IDF veterans at every opportunity.
Haim Bar spoke at the end of the visit.
"I'm happy that we IDF wounded veterans merited to hear a Torah lesson from the chief rabbi of Israel," he stated. "The chief rabbi helped the organization greats by advancing a special Shabbat for IDF wounded veterans, and anchored it in the Chief Rabbinate's procedures."
"The chief rabbi is a true friend of the IDF Wounded Veterans Organization, and he will continue to stand by us in the future," concluded Bar.
Rabbi Lau also stood by another population in March, when he visited the town of Sderot near Gaza even as rockets were being fired at the area by terrorists. His visit came in the last of a three-day spurt of rocket attacks, in which roughly 100 missiles rained on the region.