It was all in a day’s work returning one of Israel’s highest-profile hostages from Hamas captivity back to his family in the Galil. But for Major General Orna Barbivai, head of HR Directorate for the Israel Defence Forces, and the first woman to be made Aluf (the IDF’s second highest ranking) who led the mission to save Gilad Shalit, it was “inspirational to see a whole nation come together to bring home one single soldier.”
Orna Barvivai was the guest speaker at the annual fundraising dinner held Monday 9 February at the Radisson Blu Portman Hotel in London W1 by British Friends of Migdal Ohr. £300,000 was raised from the 270 guests who were reminded of the Gaza conflict last summer and the role that the IDF plays in not just securing the safety of an independent and democratic Israel but of what Barvivai described as “a meeting place to unify women, men, natives and immigrants, secular and religious – a human mosaic and a people’s army, giving equal opportunity no matter what their background.”
Migdal Ohr’s fundraising focus this year is on Zoharim, an agricultural educational youth village in the south of Israel which looks after boys who have grown up in Haredi households but who find themselves unable to fit in within their ultraorthodox family lifestyles. When they join the army it is expected they will need Zoharim’s ongoing support during leave from national service. As last summer’s 67 military deaths demonstrated, Israel’s soldiers are constantly required to put their lives on the line defending Israel and the Village provides a nurturing environment for these lone soldiers. It is envisaged that Zoharim Alumni House will provide emotional support, food and home comforts for at least 60 homeless soldiers in the next couple of years.
The charity was set up over 40 years ago by Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman to save Jewish children at risk in Israel. Today it supports 12,000 young people every week.