Interview w/ Edan Kleiman
Many of us are praying for the brave men and women serving with the Israel Defense Forces to protect Israel in its war against Hamas terrorists. They face great danger, and many are wounded in the line of duty. But thanks to Beit Halochem, these injured heroes have a path to recovery.
Edan Kleiman is the chairman of Beit Halochem, which aids wounded and disabled Israeli veterans. He joins the show this week to share an update about the war, discuss the brand-new Beit Halochem facility opening on the Mediterranean Coast, and talk about the lifesaving work his organization does for Israel’s heroes every day. Don’t miss this look at the defenders of Israel’s courageous champions!
To learn more about Beit Halochem, visit fidv.org.
Steve Conover: Thank you for joining us for The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. With me is Chris Katulka. We've been focusing much of our attention on bringing you accurate information from Israel during the war. Of course, we will keep you up to date with what's going on, but next week we'll return to bringing back the Bible teaching so many of you rely on in this program.
Chris Katulka: Steve, if you ever turn on the news, you see advertisements, commercials, for the Wounded Warrior project or even maybe Tunnels to Tower, which helps catastrophically disabled veterans of our country in the United States. Well, today we're going to have Edan Kleiman on. He's the chairman of Beit Halochem who helps the Israeli Defense Forces and their disabled veterans. He has an amazing outreach that's helping build communities for these Israelis that are suffering through PTSD and even physical wounds as well. You're going to want to hear from him. And what's amazing is that Edan himself is a wounded warrior of the Israeli Defense Forces, and his story is an incredible story of heroism and strength.
Steve Conover: We look forward to that. But first in the news, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Hamas terrorists to give up their arms saying, "I say to the Hamas terrorists, it's over. Don't die for Sinwar. Surrender now." Netanyahu is speaking about Yahya Sinwar, leader of the Palestinian Hamas Islamic movement. Israel has intensified its search for the senior Hamas leader, believed to be in Southern Gaza.
Chris Katulka: Steve, here's my take. As world leaders are calling on a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, Netanyahu is doing the right thing, calling on Hamas to put down their arms and turn themselves in. Giving Hamas any pause in fighting is giving them time to rearm. As Netanyahu signaled to Hamas terrorists, it's the beginning of the end.
Chris Katulka: Edan, thank you so much for being on The Friends of Israel Today radio program. Great to have you. Edan, you're in Israel right now. Why don't you give us an update on where Israel is with the war between Israel and Hamas?
Edan Kleiman: Okay. So first of all, thank you very much for listening to us. Israel is deep in Gaza now. Our forces are now in Khan Yunis, one of the most occupied and populated of the Palestinians, the Hamas. Every minute you have another engagement between terrorists and our troops. Heavy fighting, finding many of the bombs in hospitals, in schools, in houses. It's amazing. You can see all day on the TV, the Israeli TV, our soldiers finding grenades in dolls of children, under beds. I was amazed, shocked, to see detonators and explosives behind the wall of a classroom, where little children are sitting, just endanger them, just to put and hide such an amount of explosive.
It's amazing to see the amount of tunnels that the Israeli troops are finding, almost in every house, which raises the question, all the time you say, "Okay, there's the Hamas and Palestinians, and the population is not engaged in it." And now you find another truth, that you see it in every second house, you can see a tunnel or find weapons. And we have already now starting to get out the testimonies of the hostages that were released. And you find that not only Hamas soldiers put them in captivity, but also a teacher and a doctor and there's a couple that host the hostages in their house, locked them in the room. I was amazed to hear that one of the captives was a doctor that starved the people that was in captive.
Also, every day we found out on another one of the hostage that were killed in captivity, which talking about the inhumanity of those terrorists. Nobody speaks about that, that those people were kidnapped alive, and now they find dead. So it's means someone shot them or did a lot of horrible things to them. We already have testimony from the people that were released from Thailand that said that they were in the same room with the Israelis and they were treated pretty well and the Israelis were being hit with electric cables. And very hard testimonies and made the Israeli soldiers much more, not that they needed motivation, but now we're even more motivated because we know that we are running against time and we need to release those hostages. And when we talk about hostages, it's not only soldiers. It's not a POW. I want to remind you, I want to remind you, it's children, it's wives, I mean, babies.
Chris Katulka: Elderly, yes.
Edan Kleiman: People 87 years old, 86 years old. It's crazy.
Chris Katulka: Yes.
Edan Kleiman: And to find out that those people are now getting tortured, it's even more amazing. But the Israeli soldiers are fighting inside. Every day as I said many engagements and hopefully things will go well.
Chris Katulka: That's why we want to focus on the Israeli soldier because that's who you focus on, Edan, with Beit Halochem. You are the chairman of Beit Halochem. What, number one, help us out here in the United States and in Canada and for those listening who don't speak Hebrew, what does Beit Halochem mean and what kind of work do you do in Israel?
Edan Kleiman: So I'm the chairman of the Wounded Disabled Organization, the FIDV. The FIDV has four Beit Halochem and a fifth that now we are building. Beit Halochem, it's the best recreation and rehabilitation center, which basically built a community to rehabilitate and make a strong community for all the wounded soldiers in Israel since 1948.
Chris Katulka: Yeah. So these aren't just wounded soldiers that are fighting Hamas right now. These are wounded soldiers that go back to Israel's independence, you're saying.
Edan Kleiman: Yeah. It started since 1949. Israel was, as you know, was born in 1948. After six months, when we got into 1949, the wounded soldiers understood that they need to build the organization of their own and represent themselves. My organization is now represented 52,000 wounded soldiers, until the 7th of October. Now we already have another 2,500 new soldiers that were wounded.
Chris Katulka: So 2,500 soldiers have been wounded in Gaza since the start of the war?
Edan Kleiman: No, basically more. I'll explain. Eighty-six hundred, 8,600 people, soldiers were wounded. But most of them, thank God, were wounded lightly. Some of them were released at the same day, then even go back to the battlefield. But from those 8600, 50% of them was wounded medium and critical wounded. So the rehabilitation department already recognized 2200 of them. More than 2000. The other 2000 now are checked to be seen if they're going to heal and go back to the battlefield. All need to be treated as a wounded soldiers for life, as a disabled wounded soldiers.
So now in the hospital there's about 1000 soldiers, another 1000 are in their home getting daily routine checkup and treatment, but they're not in the hospital. They're not staying overnight. Overnight, it's about a 1000 soldiers. Totally you have about almost 3500 soldiers that are wounded now and getting treated now. And every day, yesterday there was sixty-six new wounded soldiers, which in Israel numbers, it's a lot.
Chris Katulka: That's a lot.
Edan Kleiman: Of wounded soldiers.
Chris Katulka: Yes.
Edan Kleiman: Relatively to the United States. It's like you had in one day 500 soldiers when got a wounded.
Chris Katulka: Yes.
Edan Kleiman: Or 1000. The hospital in Israel are full with the wounded soldiers. They're getting treated, they get the rehabilitation start now.
Chris Katulka: And that's all happening at Beit Halochem. And so how are they reaching out to disabled veterans in Israel? You mentioned a community as well.
Edan Kleiman: Yes.
Chris Katulka: In the remaining two minutes that we have from this segment, can you share with us about that?
Edan Kleiman: Yeah. So what's going on is that they're in the hospital. And from the hospital those guys go home. And this critical situation, Beit Halochem go into action, the organization. It's also we are responsible to take care of them in all the aspects of life and make them move the transition from a warrior soldier to a wounded veteran, disabled. We are responsible to make it the easiest way. So we make sure they and their families are getting treatment. I want to remind you, whenever a soldier gets wounded, there's a circle of family around him, father, mother, sisters, brothers, and if he's from the reserve, it's going to also be a wife and children. So we are taking care of all of them and what we're doing, we do it in Beit Halochem.
With Beit Halochem, it's like combination of a country club with rehabilitation center. No doctors here, no white coats. Only community. And this community, this hugging community, it's what make them go and feel hugged and being team again. Whenever a soldier gets wounded, he's alone. What we are taking care is we bring him a new team. We are introducing to an old veteran, like with the same disability, that shows him that life is not over, that you can bring children, you can go and work, you can provide yourself. You're going to have a lot of experience and a good adventures.
Because in this situation, we want to remind you, dreams are broken, dreams are shattered, and those young people think that life is over. They need to see in their eyes that life is not over, that the doctor, the psychiatrist, the psychologist that talk to them, it's theoretically. When they come into Beit Halochem, they see it in action. They can then start to play basketball, football, soccer, tennis, whatever you think. We have more than 400 classes of culture and sport which everyone can find himself and make his dreams come true.
Chris Katulka: It helps them get their life back after being injured on the battlefield as Israeli soldiers. Now listen, we're going to take a quick break and we're going to be right back with Edan Kleiman, who is the chairman of Beit Halochem. And he's going to share with us a story of the amazing work that they're doing, the additional new facilities that they're building in Israel, and so much more on how Beit Halochem is helping disabled veterans and also how you can get involved. So stick around.
It's been fantastic hearing from Edan on how he's reaching out to the Israeli Defense Forces, specifically their wounded warriors, the disabled warriors, through Beit Halochem. We all know that you are a friend of Israel. So right now Israel is in the greatest fight it has had since 1948. And so this is really a great time to stand with Israel and against its enemies. In this, Israel's darkest hour, you are a shining beacon of hope and encouragement to God's chosen people. So we would like to encourage you to give to our Stand with Israel Fund, which not only supports Beit Halochem and the Friends of the Israel Disabled Veterans, but also helps to build bomb shelters through the Operation LifeShield and helps Magen David Adom, Israel's national red cross. Your gift will be used to save lives providing humanitarian relief in the most basic forms, from medical supplies to food distribution, from clothing to even bomb shelters, and from loss and hopelessness to hope eternal. You, my friends, can be a shining light in the darkness in Israel and beyond. We encourage you to give by going to foi.org/standwithIsrael.
Welcome back everybody. We are with Edan who is the chairman of Beit Halochem, who is reaching out to help disabled veterans, disabled Israeli Defense Force veterans, in Israel. Edan, thank you so much for being with us. Edan, the last time you and I talked, we were talking about a story that captured my attention, of a mother whose son was injured in battle, just recently. And you went to go visit and the mother was very, very sad because she had to go tend to her children back at home and did not want to leave her son who was injured. And yet you stepped in and you were able to help in this situation. Could you share a little bit about that story?
Edan Kleiman: Can I give you a better story?
Chris Katulka: Yes, go ahead.
Edan Kleiman: Okay. I went to Loewenstein Hospital and I met a guy that was in the Israeli Navy SEALs, the Sea Commando. One of the best of the best. And this guy is 39 years old. He's in the reserve. He's not a young guy, he's 39 years old. He has five kids. And when I met with him, he says to me, "Listen, in a month from now, which is now about two weeks from now, my daughter going to have bat mitzvah. And because usually I'm the one who organized everything in the family and now I'm in the hospital, I don't know what's going to happen." Now this guy was shot, something like five bullets went in to him to him and a lot of shred. He ran into the kibbutz and then he rescued a lot of people and a real hero. I've got to tell a Rambo story. Those guys are really the best of the best. And you know that they train with your Navy SEALs.
And I told him, "Okay, so what's the problem?" He said, "The problem is that I don't know how to make the bat mitzvah when I'm still here in the hospital." So the organization stepped in, we went and called to the guys in the hotel and now is going to have, and I promised him, I said, "Not also you'll get a bat mitzvah, I promise you that your daughter will have a bat mitzvah better than what you are planning." And from a week or 10 days from now, he's going to have the best party ever and I want his wife and his children to be so happy. We arranged a party in the Jerusalem with a bus that will take all their guests and bring them food. And we will make him, make his daughter and for him a event they will never forget.
But it's not only that, it's taking care of the small needs, from the small needs to the big deeds. I told my team in such horrific way that when you have such a huge battle and so many tragic stories and so many challenges, you don't try to find the one big thing. You do hundreds of good things and then it will make it a one big story.
Chris Katulka: Yes.
Edan Kleiman: So this is what we are planning. So it starts from coupons for coffee and croissants to the families that are sitting in the hallway when they're waiting 16 hours a day for the children to wake up. And it's go through clothes to somebody that ran to the hospital and forgot to take his clothes with him. And it go to the soldiers that lost the iPhone. And you finish when you build Beit Halochem another warrior house, another recreation center, and you're putting all your energy of taking care of more than, as I said to you, 3,500 wounded soldiers with amputees, wheelchairs, blinds, and burns and the 10,000, which I think 10 to 15,000 new soldiers that will come with PTSD.
And when I say taking care of them, and this is the most important thing, it's not only taking care of them in sport and culture. It's taking care of them of finding jobs because I want those guys to go back and work. I want to make the life the most normal they can. And that organization is very proud of that, that 75% of the Israeli wounded soldiers are working and providing for themselves, and not leaning on the government to get checks. And to do that, you need to provide them a lot of tools, because the competition outside, it's difficult.
And as I said to people, a bullet in the head is a bullet in the head, amputee is amputee. But what happened in 1973 and what's happening 2023, it's a whole different ballgame. Because now life is faster and more challenging and people and if once before to work you want to have, I don't know, a high school degree, now you need a diploma and it will be BA and MA. So we need to provide them a lot of strength and a lot of holistic package that will help them.
And you know what the name is? Safety net. Safety net. They need to understand that this organization is their safety net. And once we were learning in college and I had the bad days, I came here to Beit Halochem and got the positive energy and went back home and did all the challenges that I have in the college and to get a degree. So being a wounded soldier is a long life journey. And you're going to have ups and downs and in the ups they don't need us. In the ups we are clapping and saying, "Good for you." They need us when they go down. We need to hold them, catch them, help them, glue them back, and push them forward.
Chris Katulka: That was one of the things I loved about the story that you told me with that mother who son was injured. She just wanted to stay with him. And you're talking about one small act can really add up to a lot of great hope for all of the disabled veterans. But I just love the story of how you actually found a babysitter for the children back at home and she was able to stay with her children or her son who she wanted to be with. So her children at home, her young children, were safe thanks to you and Beit Halochem and also that mother was able to stay with her children. That just goes to show some of the amazing work that your organization is doing. But in the time that we have remaining, Edan, I want you to talk about a new facility that you're opening in Ashdod, which is on the Mediterranean Coast down in the south area of Israel. Could you share about that?
Edan Kleiman: Yeah, sure. Beit Halochem, the Warrior House, were established in 1974 after Yom Kippur War. And the whole meaning of it, as I told you, to build a community and to push all the guys forward by putting them in sport and culture and community. We are now building the fifth one in Ashdod, which became the most important one in Israel, and basically important in the world. Because this warrior house is going to be specialized. It's on the beach. And it's specialized in treating PTSD. And what make it so great is that you go out from the warrior house and you step down and you go to the beach, which have a lot of action they're doing for PTSD.
So we have there also, we are doing a joint venture with one of the hospitals, the best hospital in Israel, and they will provide us the most specialists in taking care of PTSD. We will provide the facilities like the swimming pool, the gym, the basketball court, the tennis court, the things that the PTSD need to go and do. Outdoor action, we will do. And those joint venture with this Beit Halochem that's sitting in the south of Israel where the conflict were, so the people from the south that were in the middle of the conflict can come. It's only going to be like an half an hour drive instead of two hours drive. So in Israel, two hours drive by the way, it's not like the States that two hours for nothing. For us two hours drive is like a lot. Israel is very, very small. I think it's less from New Jersey or something like that.
So basically when you are putting this warrior house in the south point, then this with the warrior house that in Be'er Sheva that we already have that are working for the last 13 years, those two will cover the south and make sure that all those new 1000 soldiers will have a home. So the warrior house is the best of the best. And being a part of this project, I think is the biggest adventure that you guys need to take on you to support and help those Israeli soldiers that fighting for democracy.
Chris Katulka: And that's what we're doing here at Friends of Israel. In fact, through our Stand with Israel Fund, we are supporting Beit Halochem, which is also here in the United States, the Friends of Disabled Veterans. So I want to encourage our listeners. Right now, you can go to www.fidv.org, that's fidv.org. And there if you want to learn more about the Beit Halochem which is the opportunity to reach out and help the Israeli disabled veterans, then you can go to fidv.org and there you can find out more ways that you can connect and support what Edan Kleiman is doing through Beit Halochem. Edan, thank you so much for being on the program. You're a real blessing to us and thank you for all the work that you're doing to support Israel and the Jewish people.
Edan Kleiman: Thank you. And thank you for your friendship and this community that you run. We love you guys and we will keep fighting for democracy. Thank you for this friendship. We love you. Thank you very much.
Steve Conover: Thank you for joining us for today's episode of The Friends of Israel Today. A reminder to visit foi.org/standwithIsrael, that's foi.org/standwithIsrael. There you will see all the ways you can show your support at this critical time. Stand with us as we stand with Israel.
Chris Katulka: Steve, Christmas is upon us and that's why for the next two weeks we're going to be looking at something very important. It's the heartbeat of the Christmas story, which is the incarnation, the moment that God became man, in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. So we're going to talk about the importance of incarnation starting next week.
Steve Conover: I can't wait. We hope you join us then. Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione, edited by Jeremy Strong, who also composed and performs our theme music. And I'm Steve Conover, Executive Producer. Our mailing address is FOI Radio, P.O Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. Again, that's FOI Radio, P.O Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. Our web address is foiradio.org, again, that's foiradio.org. Or you can call our listener line at (888) 343-6940. Again, that's (888) 343-6940. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry, proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
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