Israel Guide Dogs: 25 years of creating miracles

Israel Guide Dogs: 25 years of creating miracles

Brigit Grant reflects on 25 years of making miracles at the Israel Guide Dog Centre for the Blind

Brigit Grant is the Jewish News Supplements Editor

1984 Noach Braun dedicates his life to establishing a guide dog training programme in Israel; travels to the US to train as guide dog instructor.

1986 Norman Leventhal from Pennsylvania invites Noach to meet his family for Chanukah and together they decide to create a guide dog training school in Israel.

1989 Noach and his wife Orna visit UK Guide Dogs to continue training; they receive support from Anthony Krais, associate chief executive of Jewish Care. Noach qualifies as a guide dog mobility instructor; Orna trains to establish a breeding programme. They return to Israel.

1991 Norman Leventhal starts the fundraising arm of the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind in the US to support the guide dog training programme in Israel. The Israel Guide Dog Center is established and begins operating on 1 January 1991.

Noach Braun

1991 The Israel Guide Dog Centre starts in a rented house in Kfar Yedidia, a moshav located next to Netanya. Tillie and Erin, two Labrador retrievers, begin training as the first guide dogs. Alex and Di become the first breeding dogs. Haim Tsur from Jerusalem, a blind violinist, becomes the first guide dog user trained by the centre. Tsur, who died in November, lived with Noach and Orna and received his dog, Tillie.

1993 The centre is established in Beit Oved, on a former agricultural plot, south of Tel Aviv.

1993 The British Friends is established with Anthony Krais as its president. Lady Jacobovits, wife of the Chief Rabbi of the UK, becomes patron of British Friends.

1997 The Israel Guide Dog Centre for the Blind achieves full membership status in the International Guide Dog Federation.

Norman Leventhal

1998 The IGDCB graduates its 100th partnership.

2004 The Lady Elizabeth Kaye Student Centre is built. The IGDCB graduates its 200th partnership.

2006 Canvelo – the first tandem biking club for blind and sighted riders – is established by Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Moti Regev. The IGDCB purchases an adjacent farm and plans to expand the Centre.

2008 The IGDCB graduates its 300th partnership.

2008 Canadian Friends of IGDCB is established.

Lady Jacobovits

2010 “Clicker Training”, a positive reinforcement method is brought to Israel and incorporated into the training programme.

2011 The IGDCB graduates its 400th partnership.

2012 Programme initiated for matching ‘career change dogs” with special needs families. Programme using retired guide dogs and puppies in training begins for blind and visually impaired kindergarten children. The first IGDCB mission to Poland with March of The Living taking six graduates accompanied by their guide dogs and escorts.

2013 Following elimination of the quarantine laws in Great Britain, the first guide dog team from Israel visits the UK. A plaque is unveiled at the Lady Kaye Student Centre in memory of Tamar Perkins, who established the Israel Guide Dog Users’ Association. Blind guitarist Jose Feliciano visits the centre. 

Blind guitarist Jose Feliciano visits the centre.

2014 The IGDCB graduates its 500th partnership.

2015 The centre receives the prestigious Israeli Midot Seal of Effectiveness for non-profit organisations.

2016 Construction begins on the Eastside campus, which will double the number of guide dog partnerships.

2017 Construction is complete.

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