At Galilee Nutritionals, one of our core values is supporting our community. One of the organizations we are proud to support here in Israel is the Benji Hillman Foundation. On Friday, May 4, members of our team will be both volunteering and walking in the Foundation’s annual event to raise funds for “HaBayit Shel Benji” (Benji’s House), a residential and education facility focused on the needs of lone soldiers serving in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
Benji Hillman, born in England but a resident of Israel from age 4, was a decorated and beloved officer in the IDF’s elite Egoz unit. Major Benji Hillman and four other members of his company were killed in battle in Lebanon during the Second Lebanon War on July 20, 2006.
Hillman was known as an especially caring commander, worried about not only his soldiers’ physical safety but also their psychological and emotional well-being. After his death, his family members devoted themselves to securing this legacy through the Benji Hillman Foundation. The Foundation’s “corner stone” is HaBayit Shel Benji, set to open in Hillman’s hometown of Raanana later in 2012.
HaBayit Shel Benji is focused on serving lone soldiers—those who commit to the IDF while their families remain abroad or unavailable to support them. While the overwhelming majority of IDF soldiers are native Israelis, there are about 2,500 volunteers or new immigrants from over 50 countries, many of whom try to stay in Israel after their service ends. David Hart, the CEO of Galilee Nutritionals, served in the IDF as a lone soldier from 2001-2003 and can personally attest to the need to support lone soldiers.
“Benji’s House” will house up to 50 lone soldiers for the duration of their army service, providing them with laundry service, meals and “the comforts of home” on their free days—just what regular soldiers might expect from going home on furlough. A house mother on staff will keep tabs on their emotional adjustment, and the building’s facilities will include a library, a recreation room and a call center to keep in touch with family members who are abroad. Additionally, the Benji Hillman Foundation will be organizing educational and vocational training for up to 1,000 lone soldiers in order to ease their transition to Israeli civilian life, whether they choose to pursue higher education or enter the work force. Families in Raanana already connected with the Benji Hillman Foundation will continue “adopt” lone soldiers by hosting them for Shabbat and holiday meals, as well as attending army graduations and special ceremonies. The house currently under construction, and is expected to be finished later in 2012.
Please keep an eye on our Twitter feed (@GalileeN) for more on Benji Hillman’s incredible legacy, and check back soon for photos from Friday’s Walk-A-Thon!