Movie star Michael Douglas Commends "Special in Uniform" of the IDF

The multiple award winner, the Jewish movie star, Michael Douglas, met in New York with the founder and Chairman of "Special in Uniform", Lt. Col. (res.) Ariel Almog and the soldier Roni Levi. Douglas was excited to hear about the program and about the special military service of Roni in the IDF.

In picture below: Ariel Almog left of Michael Douglas, Roni Levi on the right side.

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I am pleased to present to you the Newsletter of the “Yad LaYeled Hameyuchad” association, reviewing the main events of September 2016. These events came in addition to the current activities of the association, which supports thousands of families and children with special needs all over Israel.
Shana Tova and Gmar Chatima Tova!
Mendi Belinitzki – Director

Photo left: Chaiman Gen. res. Gabi Ophir blows the Shofar horn.


Last month, eight soldiers of Special in Uniform completed three years of service! They are now in the process of transition from military to civilian life and Special in Uniform’s team work with them to find them an employment.


05/19/2016 16:30
Focusing on ability and disregarding disability

A special program of the Lend a Hand to a Special Child Foundation enables young people with autism and special needs to serve in the IDF.

Amit Milhofer. (photo credit:Courtesy)
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Every day 23-year-old Amit Milhofer wakes up, puts on her Israel Air Force uniform, and proudly goes to work serving her country.

While for most Israeli teens this is the natural next step in their lives, for Milhofer, who has an intellectual disability, this is truly a remarkable achievement. Taking part in a special initiative of Israeli organization Yad Layeled Hameyuchad, a partner of Jewish National Fund (JNF), Milhofer, along with other youth with autism and developmental disabilities, is able to serve in the IDF as part of the organization's 'Special in Uniform' program.

"I wanted to be a soldier and I wanted to give back to the country," Milhofer recently told The Jerusalem Post.

"It's important to give back to the country, you give from yourself and you learn things about yourself that you didn't know," she said.

Milhofer began volunteering in the IDF through the Special in Uniform program in 12th grade, where she volunteered once a week with Home Front Command. Following nearly two years of volunteer service, she was formally enlisted in March this year, serving in the IAF equipment warehouse by helping to answer phones and managing equipment.

"It is something that every morning I arrive to the base happy. It's good for me and I also feel that I am giving back to the base," she said.

Milhofer, who still has some two years of service left, said that she feels she has already gained so much through the program. "I am more independent and I learn to arrive on time and to listen and to follow orders and do what I'm told," she said of her service. "To wake up early, to get ready to stand by timetables – before that I didn't know how or what it was to give back and to help."

Rakefet Milhofer, Amit's mother, told the Post that she has seen a tremendous positive transformation in her daughter since she joined the Special in Uniform program. "She is more independent, more ready and open for new things and experiences, she meets with friends more often – she just has more independence," she said.

For Rakefet, seeing her daughter who – was born with intellectual disability syndrome – serve in the air force is not something to be taken for granted. Traditionally, young people with disabilities are given automatic exemptions from military service.

"Like every citizen of Israel I wanted my daughter to serve in the IDF, I served in the air force, my brother served in the air force, my father was in intelligence – in Israel this is part of our life routine," she said. "We received the exemption from the army, and we said, 'This is a pity,'" she recalled, "and then we heard about Special in Uniform and we wanted her to be a soldier; she wanted to be a soldier."

Rakefet said that the army, the commanders and the other soldiers have received her daughter "incredibly" as if she were their equal.

"One of the commanders told me that she has great potential and that he can see her advancing even further," she said. "We are very proud of her. I think it's important to say that parents need to provide help and support and always promote your child. My wish is for her to succeed as much as possible, and however much she can," she said.

"Amit has reached a position today that I had never dreamed of."

This sentiment echoes the core belief of the Special in Uniform project: that everyone belongs and has the right to reach his or her full potential.

Amit's story is just one of hundreds of youngsters who have participated in the project.

"This is a multi-phase program where the aim is to see the participants serve in the army, becoming more independent and in the end, integrating into society," Lt.-Col. (ret.) Tiran Attia, project manager of Special in Uniform, told the Post.

The initiative accompanies participants through a number of stages beginning with a basic introduction to new experiences for younger children, Attia explained. The second phase is for participants who are still in school and volunteer in the IDF on a weekly basis as part of their curriculum. They volunteer on army bases and learn to complete tasks that are requested according to the army base's needs.

"Here we examine the participants' potential and abilities, see if they are able to enlist and serve," Attia explained.

In the third stage, the participants are accepted by the IDF to serve as soldiers in the unique and supportive framework of the program.

"This is a critical stage in the transformation of these young people from citizens to soldiers and we invest a lot of resources in them and help them and guide them along the way," Attia said.

"For these soldiers to enlist it takes a lot of work . There is preparedness of the base, and of the other soldiers, and of the families themselves," he said.

Attia explained that the parents of children with disabilities wait years for their child's enlistment.

"For most parents it is natural for a child to go to the army," he said.

"But for a mother who knows that her child has special needs, that there is no chance for her child to enlist, and here suddenly they are able to serve, it is tremendous."

To date there are 256 participants in the program, 60 of whom are serving as soldiers, with nine bases from the North down to Eilat taking part, Attia said.

"All the work that these soldiers and the volunteers do is work that is needed," he explained. "We don't want them to simply come on base and do 'make-work.' We focus on their ability and disregard their disability," he said.

"We examine what the participant likes, what he or she can do and what the army needs.

"We examine every participant according to his abilities – we have one boy who really likes to cut lettuce so he works in the kitchen; we have others who have good technical skills, and so they work with dismantling computers," he explained.

In addition to serving in the IDF, the program helps integrate participants into a home for life, where they are able to live with other special-needs youth and receive support and assistance from professional staff according to their needs.

"After their service we also helping our participants with employment transition, they will receive assistance in finding a job that suits their abilities so that with the money they earn and the subsidy we provide they can live normal lives integrating into the workforce and into society," he explained.

ttia said that the program has helped to create a "ripple effect" and brings to the military more openness and awareness towards inclusion of people with disabilities, reflecting values that are inherent to Jewish life and tikkun olam, repairing the world and making it a better place.

Prior to joining the Special in Uniform initiative, Attia managed the Sar-El program for overseas army volunteers for 10 years, where he witnessed firsthand the dedication and high work ethic of volunteers with disabilities.

"I left the army two years ago, and towards the end of my tenure I saw a change in mentality regarding integrating people with disabilities," he said.

Attia said that currently there are some 200 young people with special needs waiting to join the program, though they are currently on hold due to budgetary constraints. Still, he is very optimistic, adding that he hopes to see the program reach 1,000 participants by 2020.

"The collaboration we have with the IDF has been incredible. At first there was some hesitancy, but everyone realizes that this is a win-win situation," he said. "Today, I even have commanders calling me and asking me to implement the program on their base.

"If in the past there was an immediate 'no' from the IDF, today there is an openness to integrate people with disabilities.

We are seeing an incredible change for the good," he said.

Due to the program's exceptional contribution integrating youth with special needs into the IDF, this year, 'The Jerusalem Post' will award its Social Affairs Prize to the Special in Uniform project. For donations, please contact: Israel 1800-930-930 USA-JNF 212.879.9305;240

To register for the Jerusalem Post Annual Conference:


Jpost Social Affairs Prize to be awarded to Special in Uniform at annual conference

Roni Levi
Soldier Roni Levi. (photo credit:SPECIAL IN UNIFORM)


The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference announced that it will award its Social Affairs Prize for 2016 to the orgization Special in Uniform at its annual conference in New York on May 22.

Special in Uniform is a very unique program, now operating in partnership with the Jewish National Fund (JNF). It integrates young people with autism and other disabilities into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and, in turn, into Israeli society. Its core belief is that everyone belongs and has the right to reach his or her full potential.

Special in Uniform focuses on the unique talents of each individual participant to help find a job within the IDF that is a perfect fit for their skills and helping keep Israel safe and secure.

Special in Uniform is changing the fabric of Israeli society, helping to create a more caring and inclusive society in Israel by promoting Inclusion of people with disabilities in the IDF at a national level.

Col. (Res.) Ariel Almog, the co-founder of Special in Uniform, along with Roni Levy, a soldier in Special in Uniform, will receive the award in the presence of ministers, MKs, heads of major Jewish organizations and Israeli economic leaders at the Post's annual conference.

Link to the conference registration page:

The Soldiers of Special in Uniform at the Horse Ranch of Yad LaYeled Hameyuchad

Edited: 02/17/2016


Shachar Rambolski and Naor HaShachar, soldiers of the Special in Uniform from the Palmachim air force base have fun playing with the parrot which serves as a treatment element at the Horse Ranch of the Yad LaYeled Hameyuchad association at Tzafria.

Sergeant first class Sapir Glusberg receives treatment by horse riding at the horse ranch.


The Basketball Team of HAPOEL FATAEL EILAT adopted the "Special in Uniform" unit in Eilat.

The Hapoel Fatael Eilat basketball team adopted the unit of "Special in Uniform" of the Yad LaYeled Hameyuchad association in Eilat. The soldiers were yesterday hosted at the match which was transmitted live on Israel TV Channel 1 (Arutz 1). The soldiers enjoyed the experience very much and energetically cheared up the Eilat team which won a prestigious match against the strong team of Hapoel Jerusalem. During the game pause the chairman of Special in Uniform, Lt. Col. (res.) Ariel Almog was interviewed together with Ilona Sergejev and Netanel Ben David, the soldiers from the Eilat unit, and the base commander.

To see the interview click:

The Simchat Bet HaShoeva (Shoevah-House Joy) for special Families in Jerusalem

As every year we organised this year again the Shoeva-House Joy celebration for hundreds of families with children with special needs.

This year we celebrated with the finest artists together with the Kol BaRamah Radio!

There is no purer joy than the joy of these children!

Wishing you a happy holiday!

As every year we (Yad LaYeled HaMeyuchad) organised this year again the Shoeva-House Joy celebration for hundreds of families with children with special needs. This year we celebrated with the finest artists together with the Kol BaRamah Radio! There is no purer joy than the joy of these children! Wishing you a happy holiday!

Gmar Chatima Tova To the whole House of Israel!

Meaning in Hebrew „A Good Signature” expressing the wish of “A Happy New Year!” to the people of Israel.

Together we will continue to work for the integration of people with special needs in the IDF, in society and in employment.

At the Beginning of the School Year the Volunteer Project "A Circle of Mercy" was opened.

It's a project of "Yad LaYeled HaMeyuchad" in cooperation with the Beit Rivka College in Kfar Chabad. It is the 10th consecutive year of its operation!

On Sunday the 6th of September 2015 the inauguration ceremony for the new school year 2015-16 took place including 60 female students of the college participating in the project this year. They will coach 60 children with special needs located from Eilat in the south up to Safed in the north.

The ceremonial event was opened by the head of the special education department of the college, Mrs. Nurit Prop. She shared with students success stories from the previous years and invited two graduates to tell themselves how much the project contributed to them personally. Then spoke the representative of the parents, a mother of two children with autism. She described how much the families enjoy these hours of the volunteers.
The director of the college, Rabbi Moshe Chefer, expressed his greetings and then there was a pause to enjoy the festive food the association had prepared.

The second part was opened with a moving film about Shneur, one of the children of the project. His parents told how much strength and joy sweet Shneur gives to the family, and how much they get satisfaction from seeing his progress also together with the girl volunteering through "A Circle of Mercy".

Mendi-Belinitzky-DirectorThe event was concluded by the Director of "Yad LaYeled HaMeyuchad", Rabbi Mendi Beliniztky, who congratulated the participating girls, thanked warmly to all those who take part in the project, and expressed the hope that the contact between the volunteers and the children will continue beyond the term of the project.

All speakers thanked the Project Director, Mrs. Sara Rivka Lipsch for her sustained devotion to the sacred work, which deserves all praise.