Gaza War

IDF Commander rehabs at Five Towns Premier


When 23-year-old Jonathan Benhamou, a commander in the IDF’s D-9 unit, arrived via Hatzalah at the Five Towns Premier Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Woodmere on June 10, community members greeted him with Israeli flags and big smiles.

During a mission in Gaza on Nov. 2, a rocket-propelled grenade 30-feet away struck Benhamou in his vehicle. He threw himself out the front window to save his life. When he was rescued, he felt numbness and tingling in his legs.

At a Tel Aviv hospital, his left leg was amputated and shrapnel removed from both legs. He received five months of physical therapy and was discharged in March.

A spring vacation in the United States became something more when a friend of Benhamou’s from the army set him up with his cousin who is a specialist nerve doctor. What began as a consult for nerve pain advice turned into surgery at Hudson Regional Hospital in Secaucus to release the pain and, ultimately, change his life for the better.

Doctors transplanted the nerves in his right leg and foot and reattached the nerves in his amputated left leg.

“We came here specifically to Five Towns Premier for short rehab after the surgery,” said Ellen Benhamou, Jonathan’s mother. “Here he is getting the best treatment and already feels improvement.”

She said she is beyond grateful for the help and assistance Jonathan has been given.

Despite all that he’s been through in the past eight months, Jonathan’s unwavering selflessness and dedication to fighting for his country remains strong. He wants to return with his prosthetic to fight for Israel and defeat Hamas.

“My smile has never left my face and I have good vibes, you always need to look at the half-full glass,” he said. “So I’m injured and lost my leg, I have my life and that is what’s important. We need to realize what’s important in life.”

Since arriving in Woodmere, he has been visited by a flurry of people thanking him for his service and praying for a speedy recovery.

His stay reflects the true meaning of the Hebrew word b’shert (meant to be), made possible with the assistance of Five Towns Premier Nursing and Rehabilitation Center’s owner, Ben Landa.

“I got a phone call from the American branch of Israel Discount Bank asking if the president of Israel can call me,” Landa said. “He explained Jonathan’s story and asked if we could offer one of my facilities to do rehab for him. It’s not even a question, and I knew if we brought him here he would be welcomed into the community.”

As expected, community members opened themselves up to him and made sure that he and his mother had everything they might need during his stay.

“He is getting occupational therapy and physical therapy, his doctor will determine how much therapy he needs here in this setting,” Five Towns Premier Administrator Joseph Benden said. “Thankfully his weight bearing status was upgraded so he can do more in terms of therapy now.”

Five Towns Premier Nursing and Rehabilitation Center officials said they will care for Jonathan as long as he requires their help.

“We’re able to do a lot of different types of things here,” Benden said. “Whatever types of rehab services he needs, we’re able to provide it for him.”

Jonathan expressed how being there has given him more friends. He sees himself as the first of many beneficiaries of American hospital and rehab assistance.

“There are a lot of people in Israel who need help to get rid of pain,” he said, with his mother translating Jonathan’s Hebrew. “I think if we can help them to come here they can escape the egos of the Israeli doctors.”