Good-Hearted Volunteer Devoted to
Helping Wounded Soldiers

By Elad Shalev

IDF Photo

(IDF) "For me, soldiers always go first, even if it means that I will be left behind." These are the words of Cholda Gorbich who has taken part in volunteer activities assisting the IDF for over 50 years. From the day that she was released from her IDF service, she has devoted her life for the good of IDF soldiers. "Why do you think I am still doing this after so long? Because I have no hobbies or anything else to do?" she asked. "No, it’s because I really believe that every wounded soldier should have someone who will worry about him every day of the year and devote himself to his well being and I am the person who is able to do that for them," she explained.

For thirty-five years, Cholda accompanied soldiers who were hospitalized in the Rambam Hospital in Haifa, and she soon became an inseparable part of the institution. She spends her time there with only one goal in mine: to bring a smile to every soldier’s face. The desire to volunteer seems to be a part of her family’s blood, as the volunteer activities have passed on from generation to generation. According to Cholda, she only follows her family’s motto, in the late US President John F. Kennedy’s style: "Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country."

Immediately after she was honorably discharged from her service as one of the first women in the Navy, Cholda started her path towards volunteering for the Friends of the IDF organization and for 15 years, she organized activities for soldiers. During the Yom Kippur War, Cholda quit her job so that she could drive to Rambam Hospital in Haifa and volunteer to help the wounded IDF soldiers. "Truth be told, the hospital wasn’t my place of preference for volunteer activities. I like to see healthy soldiers, with strength and a love for life, but when I arrived to the hospital I realized how important it is that I be where I am most needed," she explained.

One of the most important aspects for Cholda is to never receive any monetary benefits from her volunteer work. In 1964, her husband, Ben Ami Gorbich (z"l), told her to continue volunteering until her last days and to never turn her love for it into a business. "He said I need to have a clear conscience and that money would make it dirty. I agreed with him. She sold all the land she had received as an inheritance, including those of her two sisters. "The land today is worth millions, but I don’t really care because I know that my volunteer work is worth so much more," she said. With the money, Cholda bought Israeli flags, flowers, and other gifts to honor soldiers. She organizes Shabbat prayers, birthday parties, and traditional activities for the hospitalized soldiers. Major Avinoam Freidm, who has been hospitalized for a few months, told us how wonderful and inspirational Cholda’s efforts have been. "She gave me so much positive energy and her visits meant so much to me. I felt physically stronger thanks to her support," said Major Avinoam.

There is no doubt that Cholda will be given a special place in the hearts of all those IDF soldiers she has helped through her volunteer activities. The Israeli history books will forever remember her for her efforts, as she has already received dozens of governmental and military awards for her contributions. "In the end, the soldiers’ ‘thank you’s and the fact that I brought them some happiness during difficult times is what gives me a sense of fulfillment in life, and that’s all a person can ask for."