Unlocking Nature in Israel
Hallel Ben-David decided to celebrate her Bat-Mitzvah in a unique way. Hallel’s family chose to hike 12 trails within Israel and the United States, the final being Nahal HaShofet in Israel. Nahal HaShofet, named in English, ‘The Judges Stream’ is a stream next to the Moshav Yokneam where water flows throughout the whole year.
One of the most unique things about the stream is that alongside it, there is a hiking trail for those who have limited mobility. The trail is operated by the Israeli non-profit organization LOTEM, which runs accessible hikes and activities in nature for people with special needs. Hallel, for her Mitzvah Project and in celebration of her Bat-Mitzvah, donated a portion of her gifts to LOTEM.
As nature is very important to the Ben-David family, Hallel wanted her mitzvah (good deed) to help those who could not enjoy the beauty of nature.
The family contacted LOTEM because they wanted their daughter to not only celebrate her connection to the homeland of the Jewish people, but to the land and nature of Israel.
They knew that LOTEM held the answers to enjoying the outdoors despite the challenges.
Paula Friedland, a LOTEM guide explained how their trails are accessible to the disabled. She began with a story about a boy who grew up in the Moshav Yokneam and on weekends, hiked to a cave near Nahal HaShofet with his friends. Unfortunately, the boy was in a car accident and became paralyzed.
A few years later, LOTEM created the accessible trail and involved the boy so that he could enjoy the nature he once loved.
Emotionally, the boy spoke of his experience hiking and said that they should build the trail in a handicap accessible way so that he can return to the cave. LOTEM granted the boy his wish.
“The beauty of the nature of Israel should be enjoyed by everyone,” Paula then continued with her personal story about her son who fell when he was on a guiding course before he went into the army. The fall caused him to be fully paralyzed, except for his head.
Despite the injuries, he is now a commander in the army and loves to hike. Learning of LOTEM, Paula joined the organization driven by the inner strength she gained while watching her son. Her life’s purpose changed forever.
Hiking in nature should not just be for the abled. Everyone deserves this privilege and LOTEM has taken the responsibility to unlock the beautiful nature of Israel -
Accessible, therapeutic, free from challenges.
LOTEM, a partner organization with JNF (Jewish National Fund) makes nature In Israel accessible to everyone. Located in Jerusalem and Emek HaShalom, LOTEM hosts groups of people with special needs and introduces a different experience of the nature in Israel. The organization offers organized hikes, workshops, nature activities as well as “Inclusive Israel Tours” for families and individuals with and without special needs. All photos within article have been kindly contributed by LOTEM.