we stand beside our soldiers

Standing behind
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
help-hero

Founders and Directors

  • Rabbi Uriel Vigler
  • Mrs. Shevy Vigler

Board of Directors

  • Daniel S. Bernstein
  • Yossi Nasser
  • Yaara Bank-Plotkin
  • Philip Silverman
  • Shay Zach
  • Richard Miller
  • Martin Nussbaum
  • Eliana Tisch

Our Team

  • Doron Akiva
    Martial Arts Coordinator (Belev Echad alumni)
  • Gil Benedek
    Campus Program Coordinator
  • Raz Budani
    Co-Director of Programs
    Israel
  • Ido Ozeri
    Hospital Visitation Coordinator
    Corporal in the Armored Corps, Injured in 2014 (Belev Echad Alumni)
  • Or Porat
    Mentor Program Coordinator (Belev Echad Alumni)
  • Bentzi Sasson
    Director of Delegation Operations
  • Sharon & Miki Shtrachman
    Co-Director of Israel Programs
  • Stav Israel
    Dogs4Soldiers Coordinator
  • Yahel Landau
    Operations Coordinator
  • Yair Mashraki
    Special Projects Coordinator
  • Shuri Moyal
    House Chef
  • Ariel Schilp
    Administrator
  • Boaz Yasiya
    Waters of Healing Coordinator
  • Adir Zecharia
    Gym Instructor

Our Soldiers

  • Bar Hadad
    Age 25
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    Bar Hadad, 25

    Unit: Staff Sergeant

    Bar served as a lieutenant colonel near the Israeli-Jordanian border. He would often go out for arrests, weapons searches, ambushes, thwarting smuggling on the border, and also dealing with, among other things, riots. The job kept Bar on high alert all the time, at every incident, he was the first to arrive with the commander to keep control until more forces arrived. During one of the activities to find weapons in a village near Nablus, Bar was part of a convoy of armored vehicles when suddenly they were under fire. They offloaded from the vehicles to find the source of the shooting, while terrorists continued to throw explosives and fireworks at Bar and the rest of the unit.  Bar had many experiences where rocks, blocks, explosives, and Molotov cocktails were thrown at him, even setting his vehicles on fire.  Following the riots, Bar and his unit were often in physical friction with the Palestinians, and he also saw Palestinians wounded and killed in the service. In between these experiences, Bar had tremendous feelings of insecurity. He had nightmares, where he felt that he was going to die or be disabled. When he had off, he would usually lock himself in the house and rarely meet with friends. Bar was afraid to talk to the commander about his fears because he worried about losing his job. It is often very difficult for Bar to fall asleep at night, and he struggles to stay asleep and dreams about the events he experienced in the army. Whenever Bar hears a siren, fireworks, an object that falls hard onto the floor, or even a car’s exhaust, he is taken right back to those challenging moments during his service.  

  • Erez Blumenthal
    Age 30
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    Erez Blumenthal, 30

    Unit: Tank Commander

    Erez served as a soldier and commander during multiple operations into Gaza. During Operation Tzuk Eitan, he experienced intensive fighting in the Khan Yunis neighborhood of Gaza. During one of the attacks at night, Erez’s tank overturned, and they were stuck for several hours until the rescue force reached them. Erez suffered from a spinal cord injury and other injuries. He was also recently diagnosed with PTSD. 

  • Ohad Shmilovich
    Age 34
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    Ohad Shmilovich, 34

    Unit: Chief Sergeant

    During the Second Lebanon War, Ohad was part of a “ZAKA company” and evacuated the bodies of soldiers of the Golani Brigade on stretchers. The following day, they transported the bodies of the terrorists from the battle. After that, Ohad mainly evacuated the wounded to helicopters.  As a result of what Ohad saw while evacuating dead and wounded soldiers from battle, he now has significant PTSD. 

  • Omer Mor
    Age 26
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    Omer Mor, 26

    Unit: Corporal

    Omer joined the army in 2014 in the Kravi Units and was part of an intelligence unit which worked with targeted observations within enemy territory. During his advanced training, he experienced severe inflammation in his shoulder due to the heavy weights. After two weeks, the pain subsided. Four months later, while serving in Lebanon, Omer carried heavy loads weighing up to 50% of his body weight. As a result, the pain in his shoulder returned, but this time, even more severely.  After several visits to doctors, who did not believe it was anything more severe than a shoulder infection, Omer could barely function. He could not sleep, eat or move his right hand. He was eventually hospitalized and underwent emergency surgery which lasted 6 hours and required five surgeons. The surgery was defined as moderately life-threatening. He was in ICU for two days after the surgery and ultimately required six surgeries.  The doctors discovered that Omer was suffering from a strep bacterial infection that mutated due to the inflammation in the shoulder. It spread throughout the right hand and chest, essentially eating the soft tissues of the muscles. Omer spent five months in the hospital and underwent a one-year rehabilitation that included physical therapy, hydrotherapy and occupational therapy until he reached a relatively complete state of functionality.

  • Elad Tschuva
    Age 29
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    Elad Tschuva, 29

    Unit: Staff Sergeant

    Elad was in a combat unit in the army and was injured in his back. He then transferred to a rearguard position as a combat medic on the Syrian border. Elad evacuated and treated the wounded at the border. This experience was profoundly scarring, and Elad suffers from PTSD until today.  

  • Matan Eizenberg
    Age 24
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    Matan Eizenberg, 24

    Unit: Lieutenant Colonel

    Matan was a commander in the Golani unit in the Chevron area. One night, he gave his soldiers a briefing before going out into position. They practiced their positions and unloaded. As Matan was heading to sleep, one of his soldiers asked to show him an exercise he had learned in Krav Maga. Matan thought the weapon had been unloaded, but when the soldier started practicing on Matan, a bullet was fired, and Matan was hit. He spent two months in the hospital and another year in rehab. He underwent four surgeries, lost a lot of blood, had fractures in his pelvis, a tear in the major artery and central vein in the leg, and a tear in his bladder. Because of the blood loss, Matan also damaged his optic nerve. He is still recovering to this day. 

  • Oren Nathan
    Age 22
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    Oren Nathan, 22

    Unit: Paratroopers

    Oren served in the paratroopers’ brigade. During an exercise with his unit, a bullet was ejected that hit his major artery and the hand’s nerves. Oren is currently being treated for this injury and is in physiotherapy.  

  • Elior Elias
    Age 29
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    Elior Elias, 29

    Unit: Border Patrol

    Elior enlisted and planned to join the Israeli Navy. After six months, he transferred to become part of the border police. While in an officer training course, Elior experienced tremendous pain and blood in his urine. After receiving treatment, experts told him that the significant back loads impacted Elior’s physique and physical condition.

Who We Are

“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