Mother’s Day: Son beats the odds and serves in the IDF

Daniel Tabarzar was diagnosed with William’s Syndrome as a baby - yet he defied the odds and is now in the IDF’s Special in Uniform program.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Soldiers gather for Special in Uniform event
Soldiers gather for Special in Uniform event
Special in Uniform

Some celebrate Mother’s Day with flowers; others honor the family matriarchs with gifts. Yet on this Mother’s Day, one woman seeks to inspire fellow moms worldwide by sharing how she received the greatest gift that any mother could ask for—her child’s happiness and success.

Daniel Tabarzar, 19, was diagnosed with William’s syndrome at the age of one year old, much to his parents’ Rami and Merav’s chagrin. This genetic disorder affects various parts of the body, causes facial features that are often described as elfin, and results in assorted heart problems and intellectual disabilities. After overcoming their initial disappointment, the Tabarzars vowed that they would support their son throughout his challenges and do whatever it took to ensure that Daniel led a happy, fulfilling life.

Daniel is very musical and possesses excellent speech capacities; yet his hand muscles were negatively affected by the disorder, and he has difficulty writing, though he can type well both on the computer and phone. At the age of 18, during his senior year of high school, Daniel received his military exemption from the IDF, an exemption automatically delivered to anyone with physical or mental disabilities. While some are relieved to receive this exemption, Daniel was devastated.

“He was so frustrated that he started crying and begged us to fight for him to get into the army. Rami and I told him that we would do everything in our power to help him get drafted, and then we found Special in Uniform.”

A collaborative effort of Lend A Hand to A Special Child, JNF-USA, and Israel Defense Forces, Special in Uniform offers extensive training to young men and women with physical and/or cognitive disabilities and incorporates them into appropriate positions in the IDF. The focus is on independent functioning, contributing positively to society, and the astonishing range of their abilities, as opposed to their disabilities.

Special in Uniform’s two-year volunteer training program culminates with graduating youths receiving their soldier’s IDs and being placed in military bases across Israel where they cull from the knowledge and skills that they acquired to perform important jobs on base, forget their disabilities and focus instead on their versatile abilities and talents. At Special in Uniform, kids with low self-worth mature into independent, confident young men and women who believe in themselves and their abilities. Throughout their years of military service, they acquire important social and life skills that empower them to meld seamlessly into society and, later, the workforce.

Daniel joined Special in Uniform as a volunteer, but after only one year, received his soldier’s ID and now serves as a full-fledged soldier. “He is so proud to be part of the army,” says Merav, “and we are so proud of him and all his accomplishments.”

Today on Mother’s Day, Merav has a special message for mothers of all children—special and mainstream. “Never give up on your children. Always believe in them, and you’ll see how far they’ll get in life! We were committed that Daniel should have a great life, and since coming to Special in Uniform, his life really has been great. They’ve taught him skills, abilities and responsibilities that make him feel fulfilled and accepted by all his peers, and this is truly the greatest gift that any mom could ask for.”