New nippers club…in Netanya

March 16, 2016 by Henry Benjamin
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Surf Life Saving Israel has announced the birth of its second nippers program in Israel under the watchful eye of a member of the famous Coogee Surf Life Saving Club in Sydney.

Poleg Beach

Poleg Beach

The announcement follows the launch at the weekend of the Australian Friends of the Israel Life Saving Association at Bondi Beach by NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton filling in for Premier Mike Baird who has agreed to become the organisation’s patron.

Graeme Gilovitz

Graeme Gilovitz

Two Ashdod men have received special training in Sydney becoming the first Israelis to have attained bronze certification as life savers. Israel has lifeguards patrolling its beached usually working with a megaphone in a high tower. Royi Levi and Barak Davidovits have returned home qualified to act as lifesavers on their local beach in Ashdod.

President of the AFSLFI Steve Rubner told J-Wire: “Our immediate priority is to expand on the work being done with the children and to implement nippers programs to increase awareness and respect of the sea.

Israel’s beaches are weekly scenes of many inexperienced people taking to the water and finding themselves in trouble.

At the launch, the CEO of The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies Vic Alhadeff openly admitted that he owes his life to the unknown lifesaver who rescued the inexperienced newcomer from dangerous seas at Sydney’s Whale Beach in 1988.

Steve Rubner

Steve Rubner

As the two Israelis head home, J-Wire has spoken to former Sydneysider Graeme Gilovitz who now lives in Netanya. He said: “We have just been given the go ahead to start a second nippers program in Israel this time on my local Poleg beach. We will be running the same program as Ashdod focusing on kids aged 8 to 14 years and the plan is start in June which coincides with the end of school year, warm water and carefree time for kids.”

Royi Levi, Gabrielle Upton and Steve Rubner

Royi Levi, Gabrielle Upton and Steve Rubner at the launch

Gilovitz made aliyah in 2013. The 40-yr-old started surfing when he was 26 and qualified as a surf lifesaver at Coogee at 35. He added: “There are life guards out on the ocean on boards in Israel in the busy months and they do have jetskis operational. But most of the work is done from high towers and they do not have the first responders like there are in Australia. Even their rescue boards do not compare with Aussie ones. I unfortunately have a lot of experience as Coogee, although it is only 400m long, experiences the highest number of spinal injuries caused by the ocean in NSW.

According to Rubner, Israel will not have Surf Lifesaving Clubs as they do in Australia. He said: “ISLSA will control the organisation with branches in as many places as we can get eventually get to.”

Gilovitz still loves his surfing and he and his board are a regular visitors to Netanya’s Poleg Beach.  He said: “I am proud to be a Coogee clubby – I am still a member although inactive.”

Coming to assist Gilovitz will be fellow Sydneysider Michael Gentcher who is a surf lifesaver trainer and assessor at the Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club. Gentcher is the technical director of Rubner’s program which will focus on increasing the presence of trained life savers on Israel’s beaches.

And for Sydney-based retired accountant Steve Rubner who also has a home on Poleg Beach it is the beginning of a dream come true. Rubner conceived the idea of making Israel’s beaches safer for their users…and implementing programs designed to save lives.

Royi Levi and Barak Davidoviits get a lesson from North Bondi's Doron Milner

Royi Levi and Barak Davidoviits get a lesson from North Bondi’s Doron Milner

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