“Being injured in war in an IDF uniform gives you a sense of the sacrifice of so many people in history; you’re part of a huge chain and story. It’s very impactful. We learn about this in school, but it’s not the same as going through it yourself. I feel my connection to the land, Am Yisrael, my comrades, the soldiers. Every day there are strangers who come to visit injured soldiers…you feel a huge hug from people all over the world. As a man in my mid 20s I had to struggle with the death of close friends, being injured and spending 14 months in hospital. You gain perspective; you can zoom out. I have empathy for regular disappointment yet I have gained maturity earlier in life.”
Asael Lubotzky was evacuated from a burning tank with life-changing injuries to his legs during the Lebanon War in 2006. He recalls feeling “I am done with Lebanon, I am starting a new battle; to walk again, to continue with life, cope with the disabilities…to look at the future. I decided in rehab not to succumb to those limitations.”
He met Avital 18 months after his injury. Avital works as an Israeli medical psychologist. Currently on Sabbatical, she shares “I have a passion for this. I like people. I try to help them in hard situations in their life.” Avital did Sherut Leumi at Zichron Menachem, and then practiced in the Oncology department at Hadassah. “I hold the stories in my heart. If I would stop feeling for the patients, I would stop working there. It gives me a lot of perspective. It is not easy to engage in the field of terminal illnesses but you can also feel the importance of life.”
Dr. Asael started medical school 2 days after being discharged. He currently practices in neonatal neurology at Sick Kids Hospital (2 yr. fellowship). Like Avital, he is empathetic and connects deeply with patients and their families. “Entering with crutches helps people who are anxious. They see my crutches and relate; see I have my own issues. I always sit because I cannot stand anyway. My disability is prominent. My experience as a patient gives me the ability to see both sides.”
Asael and Avital have 6 children; 5 at Netivot. One of them is named for a dear comrade lost in war.