Out of the many Israeli successes at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, one of the medal winners drew special attention from the Cockfosters & N Southgate community.
Noam Gershoni, a 28 year old former Helicopter pilot was severely injured during the Second Lebanon War and went on to become one of the top paraplegic tennis players in the world. During his rehabilitation at the Tel Aviv Beit Halochem centre (an Israeli Charity which provides care and rehabilitation to injured Israeli soldiers), the staff spotted his potential while playing tennis and provided him with the coaching and funding to compete in tournaments around the world.
Last year, Gary Simmons, a board member at Cockfosters & N Southgate United Synagogue suggested donating their portion of the Kol Nidre Appeal (40% is given to the shul’s nominated charity in Israel) to help the injured soldiers. While in Israel, Gary visited the Tel Aviv Beit Halochem and met with the Chief Executive, Colonel Ilan Egozi.
He was told the story of Noam Gershoni, who only picked up a tennis racket 18 months ago but had shown incredible potential to challenge for Gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The only barrier preventing Noam from competing with the world’s best was a lack of a special titanium wheelchair. Noam’s story therefore became the basis of the Cockfosters Kol Nidre appeal to raise money to purchase the wheelchair for him.
The wheelchair (made in Israel by Doron Shaziri, a silver medallist in the Paralympics shooting) cost £3,800 and the remainder the community raised went towards supporting the other services provided by Beit Halochem to its 50,000 members.
When Noam Gershoni was awarded his Gold medal, everyone involved was delighted.
Colonel Ilan Egozi, Executive Director of Beit Halochem said;
“The generous support from Cockfosters United Synagogue enabled Beit Halochem to buy the specially-made wheelchair to help Noam Gershoni win the gold medal in the Tennis at the London 2012 Paralympics. For our 50,000 members, watching Noam while the Israeli Flag was raised in London was an emotional and inspiring moment which will provide them with so much encouragement.”
Gary Simmons Board member of Cockfosters added;
“When we decided to support Noam a year ago, we could hardly have imagined we would be helping to deliver a Gold medal for Israel at the Paralympic Games. All the members of Cockfosters & North Southgate United Synagogue are incredibly proud of our contribution to his success and to the many other heroes being supported by Beit Halochem.”
Above picture: Noam Gershoni
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