Miami Mayor visits Israel

Mayor of Miami Francis Suarez visits Shalva, the Israel Association for Care and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities.

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Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami visits Israel
Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami visits Israel
Shalva PR

Mayor of Miami Francis Suarez on Thursday visited Shalva, the Israel Association for Care and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, in Jerusalem, accompanied by several associates.

Suarez and his friends were treated to a personal tour by the Shalva CEO, Yochanan Samuels, who introduced them to the organization's activities. In addition, the group visited the center's various facilities, including kindergartens, swimming pools and a gymnasium, in which the mayor showed off his basketball skills. They met children who attend Shalva and learn there, enjoyed a performance by the band's soloist, and treated themselves to lunch at Café Shalva, situated within the center, and which employs people with disabilities.

Before leaving, Suarez met Yossi Samuels, the son of Shalva's founders, whose care as a child was the impetus for the creation of Shalva.

Yossi, blind and deaf, who communicates through tactile sign language in the palm of his hand, thanked the mayor for his visit and asked him to introduce him to President Donald Trump. The mayor invited him to visit Miami, and said that the day will come when Yossi himself will be more important than Donald Trump.

"The country of Israel is a country that is besieged by threats constantly, and I think there's a much more heightened sense of security, of potential threats, than there is in the United States. It's ironic, because when you see a tragedy like the one we just experienced yesterday, and you see the loss of life and the pervasiveness of guns in the United States, it really does flip that threat level on its head, and makes you wonder where you're really safe and where you're not safe. Safety is something that we often take for granted, unfortunately, and it's incidents such yesterday's that really make us understand how fragile our safety is and how fragile our world is to certain threats,” said Suarez.

In addition, the mayor said, "There were many emotional moments for me, from the moment I arrived until now. One of the most moving was not only hearing the band perform, but one of the singers, Dina Samta, was blind; and to hear her talk about her dream to come to Miami was for me very touching."

Said Yochanan Samuels, CEO of Shalva, "The mayor of Miami's visit was extraordinary, occurring at a difficult time for him, after the terrible shooting in Florida. Nevertheless, he devoted his full attention to the visit at the center, enjoyed meeting the children, and was visibly moved and cried when the children hugged him."

Shalva has been operating for the past 28 years with the goal of providing people with disabilities the highest level of care, supporting their families, and promoting inclusion within society.

The Shalva National Center is the largest and most advanced center in Israel for children with disabilities, and serves over 2,000 children weekly. The center provides therapeutic, vocational and educational treatments, round the clock, free of charge.