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Shalhevet alum in IDF training suffers severe heat stroke

by Ryan Torok

August 20, 2013 | 4:35 pm

Matthew Klein, 20, a 2011 graduate of the modern Orthodox Shalhevet high school in Los Angeles, is in a Tel Aviv hospital in severe condition after suffering a heat stroke during physical training with the Israel Defense Forces. 

Klein has been serving in the army since November 2012 and is part of the IDF’s Nahal Brigade infantry unit. 

Several Israeli media outlets, including the Jerusalem Post, have reported that Klein’s condition as “serious, but stable.” Noam Weissman, principal at Shalhevet, told the Journal that Klein was unconscious as of Monday.

Klein collapsed on Aug. 18 on an Israeli army base in Central Israel after running eight kilometers with his unit. He reportedly had not appeared to have any health problems prior to the incident, according to an IDF source quoted by the Post.

An investigation is being conducted by the IDF to determine whether there was wrongdoing by Klein’s squad commander. Initial results have shown that the “squad commander who held the run acted in accordance with the army’s health and safety guidelines for training in hot weather," the Post reported. 

After the incident on Sunday, Klein's mother, Rachel Klein, a preschool teacher at Pressman Academy’s Early Childhood Center, flew to Israel to be at her son’s bedside at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center. He was initially rushed to Hillel Yaffeh Medical Center in Hadera, then was transferred to the hospital in Tel Aviv soon afterward.

Among those reporting on Klein’s condition is the Boiling Point, Shalhevet’s school newspaper. Shortly following the incident, Weissman notified the families of Shalhevet and the faculty about what had happened.

Weissman, who taught Klein in a Talmud class during the boy’s junior year, described their relationship as “extremely close.” He said he calls him “Matty K,” and said it has been difficult for him personally to be so far away during this ordeal.

“All of us who are really who are close with him, we’re in a shock from a distance, which is a very hard thing to handle, because, speaking for myself, we want to be there for him, want to be there next to him,” Weissman said, adding that he has been in regular contact with Rachel Klein over the past few days.

Medical personnel have been attempting to decrease Klein’s body temperature and have been giving him intravenous fluids. At one point, his temperature spiked to 109-degrees, according to Weissman. A form of hypothermia, heatstroke is the result of elevated body temperature and can be life threatening.

Immediately after graduating high school, Klein participated in Young Judea Israel Programs, which offer gap-year programs for high school graduates. From 2011-2012, Klein traveled across Israel while studying Hebrew, taking Jewish studies classes, learning Hebrew and volunteering. Klein made aliyah approximately one-year ago, Weissman said.

Weissman described Klein as a Zionist who displayed an interest in the Middle East even as a high school student.  “He’s a passionate, passionate kid. I think that’s what brought him into the Israel army, his passion,” Weissman said.

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