Message from the Publisher
Dear readers,

So many interesting people. So many interesting stories.

As an online publisher I  keep coming across them, both in the "real" and "virtual" worlds of Israeli dance.

And  the stories take on a special meaning when I'm in Israel,  the "home" of Israeli dance in every sense of the word.

Which is why, as this website developed from small beginnings to a worldwide resource, my mission statement became  "Israeli --- A home for every dancer."
In this spirit, we welcome dance stories of interest that are not published elsewhere on the websites to which we already link.

It is a special pleasure and honour to start this new feature with an inspirational story which we're publishing at the request of Benzi Raz from Haifa. 
The Accidental Partner
Israel, Kibbutz Ginegar, June 2006.
The expression  "It's a small world"  was made for Israeli dancing.
In June and July 2006 I was in Israel working with the extended family of dancers, choreographers, composers, musicians, video directors, and dance festival organisers. I caught up with two online friends, one from Israel and one from New York.

They invited me to a memorable evening of "Nostalgia dancing" at a marvellous Kabbalat Shabbat at Kibbutz Ginegar in Israel's north.

When it was time for partner dancing, I was fortunate to find a charming man who was patient, cheerful - and a great dancer! Since Nostalgia is not my usual field I explained that there would be quite a few dances that I wouldn't know. He assured me that there were a number of dances that he wouldn't do either, "because of my leg ". 

At the end of the evening, after a great dancing experience, Benzi Raz explained, almost casually and to my surprise, just what "because of my leg" meant.  It gives new meaning to courage, dedication, and the love of Israeli dance.
My Story by Benzi Raz

My  Israeli dancing career was "forced" on me by a friend in 1965. I've danced ever since, with an additional interest in international dances, especialy Balkan dances.

Professionally I was an electronics technician with the Israeli Air Force,
with the rank of Sgt. Major from 1966-1973.

From 1973-1989 I was a bus driver and bus driving instructor, and from 1989 to 2003 I was a freelance driving instructor and lecturer on safe-driving in extreme conditions. As well during this time I led groups on extreme tours on motor-bikes and all terrain vehicles.
And I happened to have diabetes.

Due to many complications and my own negligence, my diabetes got worse and one day I found myself unconcscious in hospital, not so far
from death.

Even before the necessary surgery, my dancing friends were there for me in every way and took care of  everything -- including all my financial problems.  A week after I landed in hospital the surgeons amputated my leg just below the knee.
During my recovery, instructors and dancers from all over Israel came to visit me. Somehow, with their help, I stayed cheerful and retained my sense of humor. They were all telling me that I'd be dancing again  ..."maybe in a year".*

Much to everyone's surprise I turned up one night at a dance class just a few weeks later where a friend "Sedi" (legendary Israeli dance choreographer Seadia Amishai) was busy teaching.

Everybody stopped in the middle of the dance to greet this old crippled guy trying to use his crutches to walk.

Then they started the music. Away went the crutches, and by the end of the evening I was already doing my first small dancing steps.

Three weeks later I was busy doing debka dances at the Givat Haviva class near Hadera.

 I lost my leg on December 28, 2003.

And I was dancing on March 5, 2004...

The year I thought I would have to wait before I could even think of dancing again turned out to be only three months.  Indeed, my whole healing was a miracle by itself, because my severe diabetes had virtually shut down almost every one of my vital organs.

Yet I recovered in no time at all; my heart, liver, kidneys and the rest all improved. The only real damage was to my eyes, but my sight was saved.

My doctor confessed that he'd been betting that the only way I'd be walking would be with a seeing eye dog. But today I can see enough to study at the university and go dancing.

My message is that if you want it hard enough, and have your dancing friends close to you, you can win through and come alive again.

I extend my best wishes to Zvika from Jerusalem who also came back to dancing, after some tough times and after meeting me at last year's Karmiel Festival.

KEEP ON DANCING my friends, and you'll be healthy in body and mind.

Benzi Raz, Haifa, Israel, July 2006.
Benzi has asked us to provide his email address and phone number should any of our readers care to write to him.    Phone Israel 972 -505232595
*Without my suporting family, mother, brother, ex-wife, and especialy my sister and families and my loving kids, I don't know how I would have got it all together. But the support of the dance community was critical in pushing me to dance and get my spirit back. Benzi
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