BINA’s first Virtual Gala was viewed by a large audience who came together to support the vital work of the organization. Elchanan Schwarz, M.C. and BINA’s Director of Crisis Intervention opened the event by noting that this is a special year marking the 18-year anniversary since BINA’s founding. He commented that virtual events have unfortunately become commonplace due to the pandemic and expressed hope that we will be able to gather in person again soon.
Gala Chair Avi Schron spoke about the spike in new cases at BINA over the past year, many of them due to COVID-19 which has affected people is so many unusual ways, including the brain. BINA staff has worked tirelessly to answer the call of every individual asking for advice, help, and guidance in these trying times.
Naftali Horowitz, Chairman of BINA’s Board of Directors then addressed the audience, noting that although we cannot gather physically, there is no greater connection than a spiritual one and we are all joining for the common spiritual cause that is BINA. He went on to discuss the new form of brain injury caused by the pandemic which has brought over 122 new cases to BINA. Mr. Horowitz then pleaded with the audience to make two BINA programs a reality: school reintegration for children who have suffered a brain injury, and vocational training and placement for adults who are unable to return to their previous employment. The families are desperate for help in these critical areas which await the necessary funding to bring them to fruition.
Elchanan Schwarz then introduced world famous singer and composer Yonatan Razel from Yerushalayim who spoke with great emotion, thanking Hashem above all, and then thanking BINA for their role in helping bring about the recovery of his daughter 11 years ago after she suffered a traumatic brain injury. Critical medical decisions had to be made that would impact his daughter for the rest of her life. The family was put in touch with BINA and Yonatan expressed his tremendous gratitude for their warmth, hope and willingness to help. BINA put them in touch with a leading American specialist and that connection made a very big difference in his daughter’s recovery and her life today. Yonatan then sang “Va’ani Be’Chasdecha Batachti” that he composed when his daughter was in the hospital, adding “Hashem, I have faith in you and your chesed and your goodness…the darker it gets, all I have is hope.”
The first award was presented to neuropsychologist Dr. Cirelle Rosenblatt of Vancouver by her husband Rabbi Andrew Rosenblatt in recognition of her outstanding accomplishments in brain injury rehabilitation. Surrounded by three of their children, Dr. Rosenblatt expressed her appreciation for being bestowed with the Brain Injury Leadership Award. The Excellence in Rehabilitation Award was then presented by board member Richard Bobo to well-liked physical therapist Mordechai Shedrowitzky in recognition of his expertise and compassion to his multitude of patients, including many BINA clients.
The final award of the evening was presented to Aharon and Chavie Glustein by Naftali Horowitz who expressed his deep gratification at the opportunity to pay them a well-deserved tribute with the BINA Founders Award. The couple founded BINA in 2003, with Mrs. Glustein serving as Director, following their own personal experiences navigating the complex brain injury rehabilitation system. They were determined to create an organized structure to ensure that no one would be left alone while on the long and difficult road to recovery. BINA has grown into a professional and fully staffed operation with comprehensive services and has earned the accolades of leading brain injury professionals and the gratitude of thousands of brain injury survivors and their families.
The program ended with Yonatan Razel singing Vehi She’amda, tying the theme of turning darkness into light with his hope and prayer that anyone lost and in pain will find help, and the entire world should experience healing. The virtual event generated overwhelmingly positive feedback from the large audience who enjoyed the fast-paced program from the comfort of their homes.