Beverly Hills Philanthropists Improve Lives of Teens with Disabilities in Israel


BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., August 17, 2022 — On Wednesday, August 3, 2022, residents from Beverly Hills and Greater Los Angeles who support Jewish National Fund-USA, the leading philanthropic organization for Israel, were joined by Lt. Col. (Res.) Tiran Attia, founder of the organization’s Special in Uniform program, at Ladan’s Wellness Sanctuary in Beverly Hills, to learn how their charitable giving empowers young Israelis with disabilities. The event was attended by the former Mayor of Beverly Hills, Barry Brucker; Civia Caroline, the Founder and Chair of JNF-USA’s Arts and Entertainment Task Force; and prominent local philanthropists.


L to R: Beverly Hills resident and member of JNF-USA’s Greater Los Angeles Board of Directors, Carole Shnier;  JNF-USA Greater Los Angeles Co-Presidents Susie & Fred Toczek; Grandmaster Ladan; former Mayor of Beverly Hills, Barry Brucker; and Lt. Col. (Res.) Tiran Attia, founder of JNF-USA’s Special in Uniform program at Ladan's Wellness Sanctuary in Beverly Hills


Often referred to as a truly life-changing program, Jewish National Fund-USA’s Special in Uniform program integrates young adults with cognitive disabilities into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) — which in turn enables them to enter the workforce following their service. Thanks to the generous support of Jewish National Fund-USA’s ambassadors and partners (donors), Special in Uniform has incorporated more than 500 disabled soldiers into the IDF, with hundreds on a waiting list.


“Special in Uniform finds purpose and work for soldiers according to their individual and unique abilities,” said Jewish National Fund-USA Greater Los Angeles Co-President, Susie Satzman Toczek. “Thanks to their experience in Special in Uniform, we have recruits who serve post-army in a variety of settings such as engineers, computer programming specialists, storekeepers, gardeners, and dog groomers. It is not always easy for people with special needs to integrate into Israeli society, yet with the determination and assistance from Special in Uniform and JNF-USA’s supporters around the country, we are able to uncover the creative and nuanced skills these soldiers process so they can meaningfully contribute to their communities and reach their full potential. This program is so innovative because at its core it is about taking people who are commonly ignored or misunderstood and actively inviting them to participate and access Israeli society and in turn share their unique voices and perspectives. Special in Uniform is such a beautiful and overdue example of what every society should be working to achieve.”


The event highlighted a unique component of Special in Uniform that was created at the height of the pandemic and is now gaining international attention: its Music Inclusion Program and band. More than just a pastime for its performers, people with disabilities are now empowered to participate in the legendary music tradition of the IDF, where they can develop and share their musical talent with the world. The initiative helps participants integrate into existing IDF bands and establishes connections with professional and amateur musicians who serve as mentors both during and after the participants' service.


In addition to Special in Uniform, Jewish National Fund-USA provides cutting-edge rehabilitative services, special education, and medical care for people with disabilities and makes Israel’s parks, nature trails, and recreational facilities accessible for visitors of all ability levels. Initiatives that are important to the event’s generous sponsor and host, Grandmaster Ladan Homayoon Sefat. As a young girl, GM Ladan had to care for her father after he became disabled following a stroke, which led her to embrace supporting people with disabilities.


“I am honored to help kids with disabilities and give them hope and results,” said GM Ladan. “I am so glad the IDF, through Special in Uniform, opened its doors to all people with disabilities; normalizing who they are and erasing any stigma surrounding their abilities.”


For more information about Special in Uniform or its Music Inclusion Program, contact Sharon Joy, JNF-USA National Campaign Director at



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Jennifer Milton

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About Jewish National Fund-USA

JNF-USA is the leading philanthropic organization for Israel that supports critical environmental and nation-building activities in Israel’s north and south. Through its One Billion Dollar Roadmap for the Next Decade, JNF-USA is developing new communities in the Galilee and Negev, connecting the next generation to Israel, and creating infrastructure and programs that support ecology, individuals with special needs, and heritage site preservation.