August 17, 2015 by J-Wire Staff
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The iconic Nippers program, which has for decades trained Australian children to handle surf conditions on the nation’s beaches, is now active in Israel.


Every year dozens drown on Israel’s beaches. In addition many others survive incidents but incur long-term injury and disability from submersion. The personal and communal cost is tragic.

Australia has a 100 year history of volunteer lifesaving and for the last 50 years our iconic Nipper program has brought water safety education and training to our kids. Now Surf Life Saving has been taken to Israel by Surf Life Saving Israel, an Israeli NGO

Last week Ben Rhee, second Secretary at the Australian Embassy in Israel together with Dr. Yehiel Lasri, the Mayor of Ashdod, and Steve Rubner, the President of Surf Life Saving Israel, launched the Surf Life Saving Israel Nipper program at Beer Sheva Beach in Ashdod. The program is a result of a strategic partnership between Surf Life Saving Israel and Surf Life Saving Australia.

The official launch was preceded by a two day summer Nipper camp that attracted 80 Israeli kids aged 8-13. SLSI have trained more than 20 parent volunteers to operate the program. Now the program will continue every week until the end of the Israeli summer.

The SLSI pilot program at Ashdod has proven to be a huge success. SLSI has received numerous requests from other cities spanning the Israeli coast requesting that the program be established on their beaches.

The program educates kids in a fun environment to properly conduct themselves on the beach and to understand the sea. They learn rescue and resuscitation, CPR and first aid skills. In due course it is proposed that the SLSI Nipper graduates will work along side and assist Israel’s lifeguards.

The Australian Friends of Life Saving Israel Inc. was established to support Surf Life Saving Israel by Sydneysider Steve Rubner who now spends much of his time in Israel and Doug Hawkins a prominent member of the Lifesaving community. The board comprises a wide cross-section of the Sydney Jewish community and also representatives of the Australian Lifesaving community. It has established a sister club relationship with Bondi Bathers Surf Club the first surf club in Australia.

NSW Premier Mike Baird has agreed to be the Patron of AFLSI.

Steve Rubner told J-Wire: “Five life savers from Bondi and Coogee spent three weeks in Israel and have just headed home to Australia. The Aussie lifesavers were led by Doug Hawkins previously from Coogee. He was nominated by SLSAustralia to assist us to introduce the program in Israel. and I believe he is currently responsible for all Nippers in the Sydney region.

Mike Gencher is the only Jewish member of the contingent and is a senior member of Bondi Bathers SLS Club.”

Already funds donated by the Sydney Jewish community and Foundation sponsors Pratt Foundation and Gelatissimo have enabled necessary equipment and supplies to be shipped to Israel to ensure the program’s success. Much more assistance will be required to enable the program to be rolled out across all of Israel’s beaches. SLSI Nipper program will soon save lives on the beaches of Israel.

Surf Life Saving Israel issued a statement saying: “SLSI has welcomed the team of experienced Australian Life Savers who trained a select group of Israelis to deliver a unique youth water safety program called “Nippers”. This education program is based the Australian SLSA Nippers program that has been running for 50 years, and has 67,000 youth attending.

The Surf Life Saving Israel Nipper program is a strategic partnership with Surf Life Saving Australia. The Australian Nippers are as iconic as the famous “bronzed Aussie Surf Life Saver”. They mass to the beaches around Australia every weekend for 22 weeks over the summer.”

AFSLI will hold a formal launch in Australia coinciding with the new lifesaving season in Sydney next month.



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