Dear BFL Family,
This special update was written by our co-founder and president Rabbi Chaim Levine.
Fourteen years ago this summer, during the Second Lebanon War, in Rambam Hospital, I witnessed for the first time the incredible bond between injured IDF soldiers. I didn’t know it at the time but the experience would change the trajectory of my life. Infinitely more important, what we saw in the hospital would be used countless times to help the future members of BFL not only reclaim their lives but literally save them.
I will never forget the first time a 24-year-old soldier came to me and told me that he did not deserve to live. It was such a shock – this young man is a hero – in what reality could he possibly think he was not deserving to live? Only much later did I begin to understand the shame, pain, and guilt that so many of these heroes carry. I learned later there are many reasons why a soldier suffering from PTSD begins to lose hope. The living miracle of BFL is that so often at that very moment of despair a member will reach out, put his hand on this soldier’s shoulder, and say, “Brother, I see you. You don’t have to explain anything. I promise you we will get through this together.” This soldier begins to see that not only is he not alone, but he has a family of soldiers around him that demonstrate to him daily that he will never be alone again.
In the last 13 years out of almost 1,100 BFL members, we have had one suicide, and that incredible loss haunts us to this day. Last week on Monday, April 12, another BFL member attempted suicide and ten days later he remains on life support in critical condition. I simply can’t explain the impact this has on our staff and every one of our members. There is nothing more rewarding than helping a hero find his life again. There is nothing more painful when that does not happen. The fact that we have helped so many hundreds of soldiers and their families does not make it any less painful. At BFL we have difficult work. It is challenging and demanding, yet there is nothing more important than helping these soldiers because all of Am Yisrael is in debt to them.
We try to always use this update to inspire, uplift, and thank but there are moments we have to share what is painful and at the moment almost unbearable. We are not going to be able to save every soldier. This a reality but it also not something we can or want to ever get used to.
The verse that is written on entrance to the Beit Achim is “U”Vacharta B’Chaim”- “Choose Life.” The word “Life” is in the name of BFL because we want every newly injured soldier to know that beyond this gate is a new Life, maybe not the same as before their injury, but in many ways maybe even more profound and meaningful.
With love and gratitude to our BFL Family around the world,