A group of inspiring adolescents embarked on the journey of a lifetime to Israel as part of the 20th annual Hartman Family Foundation Wish at the Wall program from February 6-17. The trip is Chai Lifeline’s celebration of life for teenagers who have either completed treatment for cancer or are living with chronic illnesses or disabilities—alternating between the two groups each year. Each participant is invited to share the memorable journey with a parent.
Wish at the Wall aims to instill the teens with a sense of confidence, joy and hope—providing them with the full Israel “experience,” while accommodating their every medical need. With wheelchairs, walkers and respirators in tow, the group traveled across the country, visiting Masada, the Golan and Kineret, as well as some of the holiest Jewish locations, including the Kotel and the old city of Safed. The teens, already used to overcoming their disabilities, rode camels in the Jerusalem hills and tractors in a northern moshav, floated in the Dead Sea, and toured excavation sites.
“My son was able to experience this trip with his best friends,” said Julia Almoslino, who took part in the trip along with her son, Yaakov. “They will always have this trip to get them through when they are getting their therapies… My son is always having to compete with peers that are typical and don’t understand how hard he works to keep up. Chai Lifeline has given him friends that are going through the same things as him. To be able to go on this trip with him and to spend quality time outside of doctors and therapists is an opportunity we will long cherish.”
“This is a unique and incredible experience on so many levels,” said Rabbi Shlomo Crandall, director of Chai Lifeline Midwest and the trip organizer. “The medical needs of these teens, many of whom have attended Camp Simcha Special, Chai Lifeline’s camp for children with disabilities or chronic illness, are very complex. This would be a very difficult trip, perhaps impossible, to make on their own. This is a journey of a lifetime.”
Rabbi Crandall believes the highlight of Wish at the Wall is the friendships formed among the group members as well as the special parent-teen bonding over the course of the trip.
“Wish at the Wall helps parents see the possibilities for their children,” he said. “In many cases, it changes the entire dynamic of the relationship and sets the stage for greater independence in the future.”
Chai Lifeline is grateful to the Hartman Family, whose foresight and initial support made Wish at the Wall possible, and whose foundation continues to take the lead on this and other Chai Lifeline programs in the Midwest.
Chai Lifeline is the international children’s health support network, providing emotional, social, and financial support to children with life-threatening or lifelong illnesses and their families. To learn more about Chai Lifeline and its services, please visit www.chailifeline.org.