The Association’s Founding Conference
To Support Golani in Every Possible Way
The founding conference of the renewed Golani Association (the Association was formerly established in 1984 and run by retired colonel Yom Tov Hazan) was held on December 17, 2014 in the Duvdevan Hall of Ben Gurion Airport’s Terminal 1. More than 100 former combatants of the Golani Brigade attended: brigade commanders, battalion commanders and resistors who served the brigade throughout its existence. Every one of these veterans are passionate supporters of the brigade, and wish to assist it in any way possible. They want to help Golani’s enlisted troops, deepen the understanding of the Golani heritage, give aid to lone soldiers and soldiers arriving from distressed families, as well as spend time with grieving families who need support, or simply a shoulder to cry on. The meeting was boisterous and monumental.
The event took place on the first day of Hannukah 5775 (December 2014) and three veteran Golani troops were given the honor of lighting the second candle: Elad Peled, (Golani Brigade 1958-1960) Uri Sagi, (Golani Brigade 1976-77) and Efraim Kaduri (Battalions 13 and 51 1970-2002).
The blessing over the candles was recited by Lt. Col Shai Siman-Tov of Battalion 12, who was seriously wounded in Operation Protective Edge (2014). The married father of two sustained his injuries while performing an operation in Gaza’s Sajaiya neighborhood. The commander and his squad were tasked with locating and exposing Hamas tunnels to Israel, when one of them caved in. A heavy wall fell on Shai Siman-Tov’s head and back and caused serious injuries to his cervical spine that left him paralyzed in his arms and legs.
Siman-Tov was initially hospitalized at the Soroka Hospital in Beer Sheba, and was shortly thereafter transferred for continuing treatment to Sheva Medical Center in Tel HaShomer. A multi-disciplinary team of rehabilitation experts was mobilized: doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, speech therapists, psychologists for emotional support, physiotherapists, hydrotherapists, social workers and more all aided in Siman-Tov’s recovery. They all treated Shai with professionalism and love and set their minds to release him from “theory to practice”, words that Shai himself uttered the first moment he began breathing on his own and could speak. Lying on his pillow, motionless with his head in a brace, as the gravity of the situation fell upon him, he straightened his gaze and said to his wife, Daniella, “even if there is one percent chance that I will survive this injury and stand on my own two legs and in uniform, I will do it. I will be within this one percent.”
At the moment of their utterance, the words seemed like a wishful fantasy. However, in less than four months Shai was able to move his fingers and toes, ride a tricycle, and stand on his feet. The Sheva team was amazed, and the hospital’s director, Prof. Zeev Rothstein, was moved almost to tears from the determination, strength and faith shown by Shai Siman-Tov. In the Devdevan Terminal event, Golani’s veterans had a hard time hiding their happiness and excitement at Shai’s optimistic words and glowing smile.
The chairman of the Association, Golani Brigade Divisional Commander Gabi Ophir, (SRV 1986-88) outlined the goals and objectives of the Association and sent on behalf of all in attendance blessings for speedy recovery to all of the Israel Defense Force’s injured soldiers who are still hospitalized or are being treated in medical centers throughout Israel.
Divisional Commander Colonel Rasaan Aliyan spoke on the Division’s activities during Operation Protective Edge (2014) and thanked all those present for establishing the Association and for the readiness of its veterans to lend a hand and assist Golani by through contributions and actions.
The hall and refreshments for this evening were donated by the Chairman of Ben Gurion Airport, Mr. Shmuel Zakai (Div. Commander, Golani 1999-2001); the wine was contributed by Uri Shaked; Liat Gavron was the driving force of the evening in all its aspects and Avi Bettleheim was the moderator.