A chance encounter
In May 2006, Gil Ganonyan, an officer from the elite Duvdevan unit met Rabbi Chaim, a leader in the Jewish community of Seattle during a visit to the United States. A month later, the Second Lebanon War broke out and Rabbi Chaim met Gil in Israel along with four other leaders from the Seattle Jewish community.
A shared mission
They distributed funds to those Israelis who were embattled in bomb shelters. During the trip, they visited Haifa’s Rambam hospital where scores of injured soldiers were rushed from the Lebanese border. Gil, who just two years before survived being shot through the neck by a Hamas terrorist in Bethlehem, went from hospital bed to hospital bed reaching out to these newly injured soldiers, many of whom were fighting for their lives. He told them he had been through what they were facing and that he was there to help in any way needed. The incredible trust and connection between Gil and these injured soldiers was palpable and anyone could see the hope beginning to take hold within them. Gil was another soldier, one of their brothers, who had come back from the other side of an injury to help.
The bonds of brotherhood
Between Rabbi Chaim and Gil, a bond developed that was based on a fierce desire among the community to assist and aid the soldiers who were wounded and sacrificed their health and spirit for the sake of Israel and the Jewish People throughout the world.
The Foundation was formed in May 2007 when a delegation of 10 wounded soldiers, who sustained injury in the uprising and during the second Lebanon War, left for Seattle, Washington in the United States. During the mission, the members underwent a change of thought and mindset and we saw that Rabbi Chaim’s teaching method is effective and greatly aids in reshaping the complex new state of mind fighters are left in when they are injured in battles and wars.
Building and growing
Following the delegation’s return home, Gil, together with another injured officer from Duvdevan, Yaniv Leidner, continued reaching out to dozens of newly injured soldiers and helped them take the steps to return to the life they knew before their injuries. In June 2008, the charity was registered according to Israeli law and the registrar of non-profit organizations. The model of injured soldiers helping other injured soldiers since that time has run across every program in Hope for Heroism. Every injured soldier has a contribution to make. Our members come from every walk of Israeli life and observance, from Eilat to the Golan Heights. They all share the injuries and trauma of combat and transform that trauma into healing not only for themselves, but also every injured combat soldier who needs their help.