Israeli charity learning from UK

By Jessica Elgot, July 14, 2011
Merav Mandel-baum

Merav Mandel-baum

Music and art therapy pioneered in British hospitals has been crucial in helping Israeli charity Reuth to help victims of terrorism and injured soldiers, its chair said in London this week.

Merav Mandelbaum visited to forge links with the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability and to raise awareness of Reuth, one of Israel's largest social welfare charities, which has a staff of more than 800. It runs a rehabilitation hospital, care homes and day care centres.

Reuth accepts any patient, regardless of the severity of their condition. Forty children in its hospital are in a vegetative state.

"What we have really taken from the UK is the different therapies offered here," said Ms Mandelbaum, who is a full-time volunteer. "Quality of life is our speciality. People can be in our hospital for many years. Many are young people. We do music, art, drama and even animal therapy."

She was accompanied by David Broza, Reuth's resource development deputy director, who had found "a real understanding of quality of life therapy in the UK. This isn't funded by health insurance or government contributions in Israel - it's all donor funded." The British Friends of Reuth had encouraged the Israeli leadership to see what lessons could be learned.

But the visitors stressed there was much the British system could learn from Israel's social care. "We have the Jewish soul," Mr Broza said. "There are things we consider that others wouldn't. One is sexual rehabilitation. A lot of people don't want to talk about that but we want to make sure a young Jewish soldier, injured from the waist down, is still able to have a family and have a normal sexual relationship. We also have a strong tradition of volunteering because of national service."

Ms Mandelbaum held fund-raising evenings in London.

Last updated: 3:56pm, July 14 2011