President Herzog visits Shalva Center
President Herzog visits Shalva CenterEli Mand, Shalva

President Isaac Herzog and his wife Michal Herzog visited the Shalva Center for the Care and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities on the occasion of thirty years since the organization was first nationally recognized by his grandfather during his presidency.

“I am proud of the years-long relationship that I have with Shalva and the wonderful work of this organization,” said President Herzog. “I am thrilled to have visited in this very special Sukkah.”

In the spirit of the traditional “Ushpizin” Sukkah hospitality, President Isaac Herzog and Michal made a meaningful visit to the Shalva Sukkah in Jerusalem, at the Shalva National Center serving thousands of children and adults with disabilities and their families.

The Presidential couple was welcomed with a live performance by the Shalva Band and the organization’s founder, members of Shalva’s administration and staff, as well as some program participants and their parents.

President Herzog and Michal were inspired by the heartwarming gathering joining the Shalva Band’s lead singers Dinah and Anaelle on stage for a few folk songs; which was later tweeted by the President and circulated on social media networks.

“It is a true honor to be able to host President Herzog and his wife,” said Kalman Samuels, founder of Shalva. “We feel the appreciation they have for the importance of creating an inclusive society and their commitment to ensuring that all of Israel’s citizens are treated with respect and dignity.”

President Herzog had an especially moving exchange with Yossi Samuels, who is the inspiration behind the Shalva organization, and was presented with a photograph from 1986 of his grandfather, former President Chaim Herzog with 9-year-old Yossi.

Yossi Samuels was rendered blind and deaf among other disabilities as a result of a faulty vaccine that he received during infancy. Following years of isolation in a dark and silent world; at the age of eight, Yossi experienced a breakthrough to communication.

A teacher at the Jerusalem school for the Blind who was deaf herself taught Yossi how to communicate via sign language in the palm of his hand and Yossi revealed an inborn brilliance and an intense thirst for knowledge. This miraculous achievement was recognized by Israel’s president at the time, Chaim Herzog who personally came to visit Yossi and proclaimed him the ‘Helen Keller of Israel’ in national newspapers.

Yossi’s parents Kalman and Malki Samuels responded to Yossi’s breakthrough in their own way; by fulfilling a personal promise to help other families coping with disability. They established the Shalva organization in 1990 and immediately filled a national need for rehabilitative care and support for children with disabilities and their families. What began with six children in a local Jerusalem apartment is today one of the largest centers of its kind in the world. The center provides lifecycle programming and unique facilities that are benefiting thousands of individuals with disabilities and their caregivers and impacting many more around the world.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Simchat Torah and Shmini Atzeret in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)