On a sunny Saturday afternoon in October 2003, ten year old Oran Almog was having lunch with his parents, his brother and sister, his grandparents, his aunts and a cousin at a favorite seaside restaurant in Haifa. The restaurant, Maxim, was jointly owned by Jewish and Arab families, and was a favorite attraction along the seafront. Oran’s grandfather had been one of the founders of the Israeli Navy in the 1950s and his father had served there as well. While the family sat at their table, a 29-year-old woman walked by looking at each of the customers, and then blew herself up in the middle of the restaurant, murdering 21 people, including 4 children, and injuring 60 others.
Tragically, Oran’s father Moshe, his grandparents Zev and Ruth, his brother Tomer, and his cousin Asaf were all murdered in the attack. His mother Orli, his sister Adi and his aunt Galit were injured. Oran himself was severely injured and completely lost his eyesight.
After being hospitalized for a year and undergoing rehabilitation, Oran decided to push past his limitations and build a new life for himself. He joined Etagrim’s sailing program and quickly excelled. In 2007 he won a Bronze Medal in the world championship for the blind in Italy.
The sports activities in Etgarim enhanced Oran’s self-esteem and his desire to succeed in life. He has become a symbol in Israel of willpower and determination, firmness. He travels to schools and lectures to his peers on the ability to overcome losses and to carry on with life. To honor his immense achievement, Oran was presented with the honor of lighting a torch at the national ceremony in Jerusalem marking Israel’s 60th Independence Day.”