About Us | History
Our History – From a Dream to a Reality
The IGDCB was co-founded by Noach Braun. As as 20-something former IDF paratrooper, Noach pursued a career that combined his love of animals and helping people After working with the Israel Nature Preservation Society for a few years, he discovered that there was no school in Israel that trained guide dogs for blind and vision impaired Israelis. He traveled to the United States in hopes of learning to be a guide dog trainer and to establish a school in Israel.
Noach appealed to numerous organizations and institutions in the U.S to help him become a guide dog trainer, but his requests fell upon deaf ears. His search for help eventually led him to the Israeli Consul in New York who in turn referred him to Norman Leventhal – a businessman and activist in the Jewish community. The two met at the home of the Leventhal family in Pennsylvania on the first night of Hanukah in 1986. Norman was immediately drawn to Noach’s vision of establishing a guide dog school in Israel, and paved the way for Noach to study to become a guide dog trainer. At the same time Noach’s wife Orna began studying dog breeding. After they completed their studies in the United States Noach and Orna traveled to Great Britain, where they completed their studies. In 1991 they returned to Israel to establish the Israel Guide Dog Center.
The center began operating from a rented house in Kfar Yedidiah, a moshav near Netanya. Two dogs were donated and trained by Noach, and the first blind clients trained with their dogs while living in Noach and Orna’s home. A guide dog school in the United States donated two breeding females, and the first breeding stock was established.
In 1994 a plot of agricultural land was purchased near Moshav Beit Oved, and the Israel Guide Dog Center moved to its present location. The first kennels were built and trailer homes were purchased to provide housing for the center’s administrative offices and lodging for clients. In 2001 a generous contribution by Lady Elizabeth Kaye of London enabled the construction of the purpose-built accessible building that now houses the center’s offices, student guest rooms, and other facilities.
Guide Dogs – Helping the Blind since Ancient Times
Guide dogs to help people with blindness or visual impairments are common today throughout the Western World, but in actuality, guide dogs are not a new idea. Proof exists that guide dogs existed more than 2,000 years ago. A mural on a wall in the ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii depicts are blind person being led by a dog, there is additional evidence that dogs assisted the blind even earlier in history.
The first schools for training guide dogs in modern times were established after the First World War to provide mobility for soldiers who had lost their vision during the war. Schools were established in the United States and Europe, and today schools exist in numerous countries in the Western World. These schools belong to an international organization called the International Guide Dog Federation, and cooperate with each other in advancing knowledge, learning new training methods, and exchanging breeding dogs.
The History of Guide Dogs in Israel
The first guide dog school in Israel was established in the 1950s in Kiryat Haim near Haifa by Professor Rudolphina Menzel, a pioneer in dog training.
In 1953 Tamar Perkins established the Association of Israeli Guide Dog Users. This organization, which is known today as “Tzemed” (or “Partnership” continues to work for the benefit of guide dog handlers. The organization provides financial aid for maintaining guide dogs and has played an important role in passing legislation in the Knesset to eliminate discrimination against blind people assisted by guide dogs, and ensuring that guide dogs are permitted to enter all public domains.
After Professor Menzel’s school closed at the beginning of the 1970s blind Israelis who wished to acquire a guide dog had to travel abroad. They had to be approved by a committee, were required to speak fluent English, and had to undergo training in unfamiliar surroundings far from home. When they returned to Israel with their guide dogs there was no available expert to offer help or advice.