Who are your Veterans? Members of the delegation have varying degrees of disability incurred during their military service. Many have sustained physical injuries or suffer from post-traumatic stress. Each veteran is screened by Israel’s Disabled Veteran’s program to assure that they are physically and emotionally able to participate in the program.
How can you participate? When the Zahal Shalom veterans arrive, they are welcomed into our homes and hearts. You can choose to become involved in one of the following manners:
Host Family: Hosts play a pivotal role in the program by providing a loving and attentive home, and participating in the daily program. As a host family, you are the veteran’s “home base,” offering basics including lodging, meals, and transportation and most importantly creating strong familial connections with the veteran. Hosting is a rewarding, intensive, hands-on experience enhanced by sharing responsibilities with your chosen “buddy family”.
Buddy Family: You participate in all aspects of welcoming your veteran without providing housing. Typically the host is a close friend which contributes to a warm cooperative atmosphere that is essential to the program’s success.
Expectations of Hosts and Buddies
- Provide a comfortable room with access to a computer or wifi.
- Provide breakfast each day. There are a few family dinners scheduled during their stay (including Shabbat dinners), and unscheduled days during which you or the buddy provides other meals.
Hosts and Buddies
- Attend day trips with the veterans as work and schedules permit. Families often bring their children on these trips – a special treat for the kids and veterans.
- Participate in a majority of the evening and weekend gatherings with their veteran. There are dinners, barbeques, and dessert parties.
- Welcome the veteran into the life of the family. He or she will enjoy attending children’s sporting and school events, participating in family gatherings, and just spending time chatting over coffee or a meal.
- Transport the veteran to and from Temple Israel in Ridgewood. Each day the veterans have trips and visits to sites in our area and New York City. Morning departures are generally at 8:30; the group usually returns by 5 p.m. depending on the day’s activities. Buddy families assist with transportation if the host is unavailable.
- Share family dinners. There are several opportunities for family dinners built into the Zahal Shalom schedule. Host and buddy families generally share the responsibility for these meals.
- Team up for free days. Often host and buddy families organize this open time so both families can take excursions or plan special activities with their veteran. They can also arrange for the buddy family to spend time with the veteran on its own.
Questions and Support: The Host and Buddy Committee of the Zahal Shalom Executive Committee recruits and supports our American families. We are available to answer your questions and help you with all facets of the hosting experience.