we stand beside our soldiers
Belev Echad is an international initiative dedicated to easing this transition through a system of support that empowers each veteran to live a life without limits. We adopt each wounded veteran and assume the roles of mentor, advocate and friend, guiding them through critical medical, educational and professional decisions and celebrating life’s milestones big and small.
Since the founding of the State of Israel, hundreds of thousands of young Jewish men and women have risked their lives and limbs to protect the Jewish people and ensure the security of the Jewish Homeland. Many of these soldiers sustain physical injuries and even more are left with emotional scars that can be equally debilitating.
Founded in 2009 by Rabbi Uriel Vigler and his wife Shevy, Belev Echad began as an annual tour of New York City, as a gesture of solidarity and support for wounded warriors of the IDF. What started off as a local initiative of the New York Upper East Side Jewish community has now become a global movement dedicated to helping veterans of the IDF reintegrate into civilian life with the love and support they need to thrive.
We are now an essential part of healing, growing beyond just a vibrant community to a close-knit family. Together, we celebrate birthdays, marriages and births, provide resources and support through the big decisions, and show up when times are tough. These courageous young men and women have risked life and limb for the safety of the Jewish Homeland. Our work with these wounded veterans shows our solidarity and gratitude for their enormous sacrifice.
What Shevy and Rabbi
Vigler have done is
incredible, and we are
forever in debt to our
soldiers and what they
have done for us.— KIMBERLY
Founders and Directors
Rabbi Uriel Vigler
Mrs. Shevy Vigler
Board of Directors
Daniel S. Bernstein
Doron AkivaMartial Arts Coordinator (Belev Echad alumni)
Gil BenedekCampus Program Coordinator
Raz BudaniCo-Director of Programs
Ido OzeriHospital Visitation Coordinator
Corporal in the Armored Corps, Injured in 2014 (Belev Echad Alumni)
Or PoratVP HR & Mentor Program Coordinator
Bentzi SassonDirector of Delegation Operations
Sharon & Miki ShtrachmanCo-Director of Israel Programs
Stav IsraelDogs4Soldiers Coordinator
Raz MizrachiOperations & Well-Being Coordinator
David AxelProjects Manager
Shuri MoyalHouse Chef
Ariel SchilpProgram Coordinator
Adir ZechariaGym Instructor
Dorel Ben HaimMedia
Omar Harel, 37
When the Second Lebanon War broke out in 2006, Omar served as a tank commander and was sent with his battalion deep into Lebanon. During the fighting, Omar witnessed harrowing sights, including the death of one of his soldiers, who was hit by an anti-tank missile in front of him, and the loss of a crew, including his MP and four other fighters, in another tank in the battalion, due to enemy fire. After the war, Omar was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to the intense stress he experienced during the conflict. Omar underwent a lengthy rehabilitation process to learn how to live with his disability and limitations and lead an independent life.
Ido Lapid, 30
Ido enlisted in November 2011 and completed the tank commanders’ course. Operation Tzuk Eitan broke out during his service, and Ido’s company was sent to Gaza. During the war, Ido was injured by a mortar bomb explosion. He underwent two surgeries and rehabilitation and returned to complete his regular service. Following his service, Ido faced several difficulties and struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder. He pursued higher education and earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Ben Gurion University. He now works as a nurse at Soroka Hospital while studying for a master’s degree in nursing.
Tal Ohana, 30
Tal Ohana served in the Golani Brigade during Operation Tzuk Eitan. On the third night of the Operation, Tal found himself amid a harrowing combat situation. As part of an infantry force tasked with raiding a building labeled a Hamas operatives’ stronghold, Tal’s unit was advancing towards its destination when tragedy struck. A charge planted in advance detonated under their feet, injuring Tal and killing two of his friends instantly. In addition to hearing loss in his left ear, Tal suffered three disc herniations in his lower back and injuries to his head. Despite the chaos and danger surrounding them, Tal’s unit persevered, fighting back against massive gunfire and providing medical assistance to those in need. The bravery and determination of Tal and his fellow soldiers allowed them to withdraw to safety, despite being under heavy fire. However, the battle was far from over. Three days after the initial incident, Tal’s unit prepared to bomb the infamous Unra hospital, which was being used as a missile factory. During the operation, Tal was injured by a blast and fell from the third floor of a nearby building to the first floor. He was then evacuated and treated for his injuries.
Yaron Mirkov, 35
Yaron served in Gaza for five years as a liaison officer for his battalion. During Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, Yaron sustained injuries due to rocket fire in his battalion’s deployed area. Despite his own injuries, Yaron helped evacuate other wounded personnel and witnessed some of the traumatic experiences of his fellow soldiers. Following the end of the operation, Yaron resumed his duties in the battalion until his release. He then transferred to the combat response unit, where he served for several years until he was recognized by the rehabilitation department. Currently, Yaron is unemployed and is undergoing self-rehabilitation in search of a meaningful path forward.
Itamar Glazer, 31
Itamar Glazer served as a sniper in the elite Sayeret Nahal special forces unit. During Operation Tzuk Eitan, Itamar’s unit was deployed to the Beit Hanoun neighborhood in Gaza, where he experienced intense combat firsthand. On July 25, three missiles hit the house where Itamar was located, tragically resulting in the death of his friend Roy Peles and causing Itamar to suffer a severe knee injury that required airlifting to the hospital and an extensive recovery process. Years later, Itamar was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to the trauma he experienced. The Ministry of Defense has recognized both his leg injury and his PTSD.
Aviv Luzia, 35
Aviv Luzia enlisted in the Border Guard in 2006, which began with rigorous training and intense combat preparation. During his service, the Second Lebanon War erupted, thrusting Aviv and his team into the thick of battle along the southern front lines. From there, he was stationed in Ramallah. Additionally, Aviv was stationed in the Hebron sector and, for a brief period, patrolled the Western Wall area in Jerusalem. Throughout his army service, Aviv experienced harrowing incidents, including shootings, attempted stabbings, and other acts of violence. In 2008, a fellow member of Aviv’s unit tragically took his own life mere inches away from him, an event that deeply impacted Aviv. The cumulative effect of these traumatic experiences took a heavy toll on Aviv, leaving him grappling with the emotional and psychological scars of his service. After completing his tour of duty, he transferred to the rehabilitation department, where he began the process of healing and recovery.
Shay Ozana, 40
Shay was part of the military police, and during the second intifada, experienced quite a few shooting attacks. In one of the incidents, two soldiers involved in the security of the base were killed by Palestinian snipers who shot them after an ambush, and injured two more soldiers. Another time, a suicide bomber was on his way into Israel to blow himself up when he saw Shay and his team. He detonated his explosives then with the aim of killing innocent fighters and civilians. Luckily, Shay was inside a bulletproof jeep, and no one was injured. There were many other incidents that occurred with Palestinians. After 17 years of struggles and hardship, Shay was diagnosed with PTSD.
“A person that is deprived of a limb or a
faculty this itself indicates that G-d has given
him special powers to overcome the limitations
this entails, and to surpass the achievements
of ordinary people. You are not ‘disabled’ or
‘handicapped,’ but special and unique, as you
possess potentials that the rest of us do not.”— The Lubavitcher Rebbe
RABBI MENACHEM M. SCHNEERSON
SPEAKING TO WOUNDED IDF VETERANS