Remembering Yisraela Nevo, a"h
November 22, 2010
Nov 22, 2010
On Sunday [14 Kislev 5571], the 21st of November, 2010, the ALEH Family lost one of its dearest and most beloved members – Yisraela Nevo, z”l. Yisraela was one of the primary founders of ALEH Moriah in Gedera, and a guiding light for the ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran rehabilitation village in the south. Throughout her life, Yisraela worked tirelessly on behalf of the weakest and most vulnerable members in our society. For her, all of ALEH’s children were truly her own children.
Yisraela’s extraordinary personality, unique contribution and her indomitable spirit enabled her to be a supporting pillar for so many That pain of her loss is keenly felt by everyone at ALEH, as reflected in the following moving words of eulogy given by Major General (Res.) Doron Almog, Chairman of ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran, at her funeral:
Our beloved Yisraela,
I first met you during one of the most difficult periods in my life. My wife and I had made the painful decision to move our son Eran from our home, and bring him to ALEH Moriah in Gedera. But when we arrived, it was to a place of seeming tumult and chaotic arrangements; I recall that one of the walls, there was a painting hanging upside down. Who would give Eran a good night kiss? – I asked. Who would make sure he dresses properly and that he is taken care amidst the confusion? And then came your reply, spoken quietly, firmly, and with absolute sincerity: I will.
I grew to understand that you genuinely cared for Eran and all of his friends. You felt them, experienced them, every minute of every day. It was their lives that you lived, as you breathed their every breath, dreamed their dreams, and understood their pain. But above all – you loved them. You simply loved them.
Together, we built the special house for Eran in Gedera. The Ministry of Welfare were convinced that the standards of the place ‘too high’; they worried that its disabled residents would wreak havoc on the magnificent structure. But on the day the residents moved into Bet Eran you called, and said in your quiet voice: It is we who are ‘retarded’ ones, Doron, we who have been slow and backwards in our thinking. What can you mean? – I asked. And you replied: I mean Eran and his friends. You need to see for yourself with what respect and care they are settling in to their new home…
Bet Eran was the first breakthrough, the first breaching of the norms and of turning accepted standards on their heads. It became a trailblazer, creating new benchmarks of care that were previously unknown in Israel. And you were the architect of this change. You were the soul of the place that became a warm and loving home. You declared an end to long corridors with restrooms all the way at the end. For the first time: the concept of a room shared by two residents, with varied colors on the walls, lively curtains, special game corners, a family dining room, a cozy salon for relaxation, a nook for watching television, and rooms designated for creative activity and fashioning handicrafts.
And all these efforts drew forth smiles – from the staff, the administration – and from the children. It was as though all the tremendous pain that had been trapped inside these damaged bodies broke out, transformed to smiles of hope. The house became a home, and an inviting place to visit. Suddenly, people came from all over the country just to see this miracle that had taken place. And you taught them all that a person with disabilities is a person just like you or me, and that it is our communal responsibility to look after their welfare, and to ensure that they receive the same rights and opportunities as the rest of us.
Suddenly, there was hope, and our hearts were filled with possibility. Your words gave us all strength and the inspiration that was needed to plan and design a pioneering rehabilitation village. Your words – first spoken quietly, and then later, in a clear, strong voice that held no room for doubts.
The vision of the village, and the thought of turning it into a reality, invoked your smile, your tremendous energies. You would go out to the building site and dash off back to the drafting table. And throughout the entire process, your eyes shone pure light. In the small room in Gedera we sat together with the steering committee, and we all felt the waves of enthusiasm blazing from you, evident in the way you gave so much thought to every detail, no matter how small. It was as though you entered into the body and soul of every one of our special children, and you channeled their hearts’ desires into an expression of their dream village, so they would have a real home for all their days.
Nearly four years of intensive preparations passed before the first shovelful of dirt, then another two years of construction until the first residential neighborhood was opened. And then, the most difficult task of all: how to effectively run the daily management of the village, while still working intensively with the development team. An impossible conflict of contradictory tasks. On the one hand, the desire to ensure that the new home treat its residents as if they were the center of the universe; on the other hand, the pressing necessity of focusing on future needs and projects in the making.
But the greatest crisis we all faced during the establishment of the village was created in the circumstances of your leaving us. We felt that we had embarked upon a difficult journey, along a bumpy road that had never been traversed. Precisely in those difficult days, when the pain was intensified by the untimely death of our son Eran, we managed to find enormous strength in the bright vision that you had carved out for us to follow. That vision seeks to provide a future of hope to the weakest in society. It was at that time that you asked me to go to schools to speak with the youth. You asked me to put before them this challenge – that it is they who must bring about a change in our society; they are the ones who need to raise the banner of social responsibility. You asked me to tell them that they are the ones with the power to create such a change – to effect a real tikkun olam.
I am so grateful, Yisraela, that you were with us along the way. Thank you for being a source of inspiration, and such a vital partner in designing our vision for the future so clearly. On behalf of all of us who had the privilege of working with you to realize this vision, I ask your forgiveness for any hurt or misunderstanding that may have been incurred along the way. Today, with your passing, the children of ALEH bow their heads in sorrow, crying out in such a way that must breach the most impermeable heart. Their cries must surely break through barriers, overturning all stigmas and preconceived notions. Yisraela, the good and the worthy that you brought into our world is engraved in our hearts, and ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran will perpetuate your vision and your legacy forever.
Now that all your pain has left you, and you are with our dear Eran, I know that you will continue to clothe us with love enough to fill all the empty space in the universe. May your memory serve as an eternal source of merit and blessing.
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