Boca Raton Soldier Remembered at South Florida Event, Funds Raised for Life-Saving Veteran Suicide Prevention Program
BOCA RATON, Fla., November 12, 2021 — “They are our angels on earth. They stand up for the values that matter. They sacrificed. They served. They were on the frontlines fighting for us. It’s a debt we could never repay.” On Wednesday, November 10, 2021, Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA), in partnership with Heroes to Heroes Foundation and Boca Raton Synagogue, hosted a special evening for more than 100 community members in South Florida commemorating Veterans Day. The event honored the memory of Boca veteran, Andrew F. Snow, and highlighted a life-saving program that is proving to stop suicide among veterans.
Roberto Cintron, Zev Elias, Judy Elias, Lee Lebovitch,Craig Wertheim
“It’s a silent pain, a silent disease,” said Judy Isaacson Elias, Founder and President of Heroes to Heroes Foundation. “How do we get to them before it’s too late? That’s the challenge.”
Upon realizing that many traditional mental health and medical programs for veterans don’t offer support for, or focus on, spiritual healing after military service, Boynton Beach-based Heroes to Heroes Foundation, philanthropically supported by JNF-USA’s Boruchin Center — which aspires to build bridges and meaningful connections between Americans and the people of Israel — was established to help fill this void; offering American combat veterans who have attempted suicide or are on a path to self-destruction due to moral injury the chance to restore their faith and heal not just their minds, but their souls.
“I raised a warrior. That’s one of my proudest things. He was a patriot. He was a purple heart recipient. But when he came home from the war, he was troubled; his faith was shaken,” said Art Snow, father of Boca Raton veteran, Andrew F. Snow, who was saved from suicide by Heroes to Heroes but died in 2020 due to a health condition that began during his service in Iraq.
The journey to healing with Heroes to Heroes takes place over the course of a year and begins with a 10-day trip to Israel where participants connect with the earth and plant trees in remembrance of fellow servicemen and women who perished during their service or from suicide, and spend time with Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers — bonding by uniting with veterans in a “veteran country” half way around the world. The veterans also visit sites including the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Via Dolorosa, and Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and the JNF-USA and KKL-JNF 9/11 Living Memorial in Jerusalem – the only memorial outside of the U.S. that lists the names of all who died that day – among other spiritual and historical locations. While in Israel, veterans often become reconnected to their faith and experience forgiveness, peacefulness, and emotional relief.
“There is one country, one land in the world that exudes spirituality and is a place of healing and transformation. Whatever your religion, Israel is a special place,” said Rabbi Efrem Goldberg of Boca Raton Synagogue.
Rabbi Efrem Goldberg of Boca Raton Synagogue
Over 300 veterans have participated in the Heroes to Heroes program and outcomes are remarkable. Approximately 600 vetted individuals are on a waiting list to participate in the program, while another 150 applied and are awaiting evaluation to join, following the recent conflict in Afghanistan.
“The Heroes to Heroes formula saves lives, improves lives, and it heals,” added Snow.
During his time with Heroes to Heroes, Andrew Snow participated in several programs with JNF-USA, including a “tour” of college campuses where he spoke to university students about his experience serving in the military, what happened when he came home, and how Israel changed his life.
Since its founding in 1901, JNF-USA has planted over 260 million trees in Israel, and it was through JNF-USA that Andrew was able to plant a tree in Israel in honor of military friends he lost, as well as for his girlfriend who sadly passed away shortly before Andrew departed on his journey to healing.
Knowing how meaningful this connection was to Andrew, during the event, Art Snow and his wife Marianne were presented with a beautiful plaque that read: “A donation has been made for 1,000 trees to be planted and cared for throughout the land of Israel, and an inscription will be made in the honor book of groves in Jerusalem in loving memory of Andrew F. Snow. Planted with love by Russell F. Robinson, Ronald S. Lauder, Dr. Sol Lizerbram, Judy Elias & the entire JNF-USA family.”
Art and Marianne Snow are presented with a plaque stating Jewish National Fund-USA has planted 1,000 trees in Israel in memory of their son, veteran Andrew F. Snow
Additional highlights from the program included a first-hand account from South Florida veteran, Roberto Cintron, who shared how he suffered emotionally and physically after his military service, as well as the challenges he faced upon returning from Central America, where he was stationed. Cintron described being so emotionally and physically debilitated at one point in his life, he was taking 14 different medications and had trouble doing basic tasks like chewing his food, talking, or standing up on his feet.
For Cintron, his healing began when he laid his hand upon the Western Wall and felt a connection to God. After his trip to Israel with Heroes to Heroes, Roberto said he no longer needed most of the prescriptions and credits Heroes to Heroes for changing his life. “What you see here today, it’s because of Heroes to Heroes.”
For more information about Heroes to Heroes, contact Judy Elias at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.HeroestoHeroes.org. For more information about Jewish National Fund-USA in South Florida or the Boruchin Center, contact Lee Lebovich, JNF-USA Executive Director, South Florida at email@example.com.
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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.