Zahal Shalom: Bergen County, NJ
Zahal Shalom was created in 1993 by a group of private citizens in Bergen County. We are part of an Overseas Delegation program that traces its origins to the Six Day War and involves two Israeli organizations, the Zahal Disabled Veterans ( ZDVO) and Beit Halochem (“The Warrior’s House”).
Each year we bring delegations of ten disabled Israeli war veterans for two weeks, during which they are hosted by local families.
Zahal Shalom’s executive committee, consisting strictly of volunteers, organizes a detailed program including trips to various sites in the metropolitan New York area as well as a three day trip to Washington D.C. Our evenings and weekends are packed with more social activities than most of us experience in a year, including dinners, pool parties, broadway shows, and so much more. The delegation visits local schools and synagogues where the vets have an opportunity to discuss their wartime experiences and everyday life in Israel. Many of the vets have never been outside of Israel and their local community. This experience with their hosts and the local Jewish community–frequently enables them to reveal painful memories that they have never discussed with even their own families. It is not uncommon for them to suffer from varying degrees of post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).
Host and buddy families have often never visited or even planned to visit Israel. They achieve a better understanding of life in Israel and frequently plan a tour after the delegation returns. They are inspired through observing how another human being strives to lead a normal life in spite of serious physical and/or emotional challenges. The warm and long lasting relationships forged from this experience create familial bonds that last many years.
Each year we bring ten disabled Israeli war veterans to join us in our homes and spend time with our families, our communities and enjoy our city. Our mission is to show them our appreciation for all they have done and continue to do to protect our people and heritage.
Roi Bouchnik – VETERAN
I am Roi Bouchnik. It has been almost 6 months since I returned from New Jersey but part of me feels as if I never
Debbie Zingler – HOST FAMILY
The initial trepidation of becoming a host family quickly dissipated when our family and Guy began texting