Don’t Let Obstacles Stand in Your Way
United with Israel / Terri Nir
ALEH is a nonprofit organization that provides state-of-the-art medical, educational and rehabilitative care to over 650 children with cognitive and physical difficulties at four facilities throughout Israel. Shlomit Grayevsky is director of the ALEH Jerusalem Center, home to 71 severely mentally and physically disabled children and young adults ranging in age from infancy to 21 years. The center also offers daycare, outpatient treatment and special education.
November 2015 will mark 16 years since Grayevsky, 55, joined ALEH. Before assuming her position at the Jerusalem branch, Grayevsky, born and raised in Jerusalem, worked for 18 years in hospitals throughout the Israeli capital in several capacities, including as staff nurse in the neuro-surgical intensive care unit at Hadassah and as a clinical instructor at Bikur Cholim Hospital School of Nursing and Shaare Zedek Medical Center School of Nursing. At Shaare Zedek, she also served as course coordinator for the pediatric intensive care nursing program.
Last Thursday, Health Minister Yaakov Litzman visited the Jerusalem facility and enjoyed a private tour, led by Grayevsky. After viewing the living quarters and state-of-the-art rehabilitation rooms, Litzman said he was “amazed by the devoted care and dedication of management by the ALEH employees for these special children.”
“Thanks to ALEH’s professional staff and innovative programming, severely disabled children of all ages across Israel are able to live much like their non-disabled peers, are accepted by a wider segment of the population, and develop far beyond the boundaries of their initial prognoses,” Grayevsky told the minister. “On a daily basis, this Jerusalem facility helps severely disabled children advance, grow, and live a happy, dignified, and meaningful life.”
Grayevsky took some time away from her busy schedule to chat with United with Israel. Following are excerpts of the interview.
UWI: Can you describe one of your most rewarding moments at ALEH? Or a disappointing experience in this capacity?
Grayevsky: The most rewarding aspect of the job is knowing I’m making a difference in a family’s life, or in a child’s quality of life. Whether it’s hearing feedback about your impact or seeing it, it’s the best part of the job. The most difficult part of the job is feeling like there is always more I could be doing.
UWI: How does care for physically/mentally disabled youth in Israel and at ALEH in particular compare to similar efforts in the developed world?
Grayevsky: Our goal at ALEH is to make lives better in whatever capacity. Sometimes that means trying new equipment, methods or technology. Our volunteers and staff don’t hold back.
UWI: Do you have your own family to care for? How do you manage, both practically and emotionally?
Grayevsky: Yes, I am incredibly blessed with seven children and an amazing husband. I really believe that the more you do, the more time you make for things. Even while raising the children and working, I obtained a second [academic] degree and I’m not unique in this at ALEH. We are all very motivated.
UWI: Do you have any hobbies?
Grayevsky: Yes, I love to read, run and swim.
UWI: If you could go back in time, is there anything you would change about your life?
UWI: Do you have a personal catchphrase or guiding principle?
Grayevsky: Don’t hold yourself back, neither personally nor professionally. If you want something badly enough, you can overcome the challenges. You can honestly do anything you put your mind to doing.
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