General, rabbi win Israel Prize for lifetime achievement

Doron Almog, retired soldier and advocate for the disabled, honored for life’s work along with army integration activist Rabbi Eli Sadan

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Doron Almog puts a medal on a child from ALEH Jerusalem child at the Jerusalem Marathon. (photo credit: courtesy Aleh)
Doron Almog puts a medal on a child from ALEH Jerusalem child at the Jerusalem Marathon. (photo credit: courtesy Aleh)

Doron Almog, a retired Israel Defense Forces major general, and the national-religious Rabbi Eli Sadan will be awarded the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement for their contribution, the Education Ministry announced on Thursday.

The award committee hailed Almog for his celebrated military career, and for revolutionizing care facilities for Israelis with special needs.

“Major General Doron Almog is an Israeli hero,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett said. “He risked his life for the security of Israel and dedicated his life to Israeli society.

“He defends the most vulnerable members of society, he fought bravely for his son, may his memory be for a blessing, and fought fearlessly to free the hostages at Entebbe, and led some of the IDF’s most elite units,” he added.

Doron Almog. (photo credit: Aleh)
Doron Almog. (photo credit: Aleh)

Almog lost his eldest son Eran, who was born with severe autism and developmental handicaps, to Castleman’s disease in 2007. Over the past two decades, Almog has worked extensively with ALEH, an organization operating state-of-the-art rehabilitative villages for Israelis with severe disabilities. He currently chairs ALEH’s Negev campus.

The retired general is also a decorated soldier. In 1976, he helped lead the famed hostage rescue at Entebbe, and for years after, as head of the IDF’s Southern Command, he foiled attempts to launch attacks in Israel.

Rabbi Eli Sadan speaks during a protest in front of the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on February 21, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Rabbi Eli Sadan speaks during a protest in front of the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on February 21, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The other recipient of a lifetime achievement award named by Bennett on Thursday is Rabbi Eli Sadan, for his efforts to integrate national-religious Israelis in the army.

Calling him a “Zionist revolutionary,” Bennett said Sadan’s pre-army preparatory program for religious teens “put one of the greatest revolutions in Israeli society in to motion.”

Inaugurated in 1988, Sadan’s Bnei David program, in the West Bank settlement of Eli, has sought to guide religious Israelis into successful army positions and practical professions after their service.

“Rabbi Sadan brought secular and religious Jews together, connecting Torah with the army and the state with Zionism and settlement,” Bennett wrote. “Thanks to him, thousands of young people were able to make meaningful contributions to the IDF.”

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