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Boy teased for facial birthmarks gets heartfelt internet love

A young Israeli boy teased for his rare skin condition gets a touching show of support from strangers online.

Ruthi and Erez Gaon.

yooocan

Israelis are drawing dots on their faces -- and it's not some new way to observe the Jewish High Holy Days being celebrated around the world this week.

They're doing it to support 8-year-old Erez Gaon, who has numerous birthmarks on his face and body due to a rare congenital condition.

Erez's mom, Ruthi, posted a message to Facebook on Saturday after a couple of people made fun of her son. She also posted a photo of herself, sporting her own constellation of brown dots and making funny expressions alongside adorable Erez.

"I swear I got used to people staring at you, the comments behind our back, the sad fact is that no matter how much we talk of inclusion and acceptance the different remains excluded and will always draw attention," she wrote. "Sometimes it is even amusing. But it is hard for me when people are just mean. How can someone laugh about you my beloved son?"

Rotem Smadja, one of Erez's Facebook supporters.

Friends of Erez/Facebook

The internet, not always known for being kind, quickly put its best face forward. Many Israelis answered Ruthi's heartfelt post with kind words of their own, and supporters of all ages posted spotted photos of themselves with a Hebrew hashtag that translates to "Friends of Erez."

"I am proud and excited to among the friends of Erez," Rotem Smadja wrote. "Genius Erez, sweet Erez, you are simply amazing."

Included in the stream of photos from friends, strangers and even brands that put dots on their products is one of Erez's brother Asaf and sister Noa.

"We are so proud of you little brother," the caption reads.

In addition to Facebook, the Gaons share their story on yooocan, an online community for people with disabilities started several months ago by Erez's dad, Yoav, and uncle, Moshe. The site, currently in beta, features inspirational stories and resources for people with disabilities and also sells assistive products and services.

"Like Erez, there are over 1 billion people in the world, living with some kind of cognitive or physical disability," the site reads. "The problem is, that although there are many activities, services and products out there, people don't know about them."

Erez has benign birthmarks called congenital nevi, which sometimes can increase the risk of melanoma later in life. According to the organization Nevus Outreach, one in every 50 to 100 people is born with a small melanocytic nevi. Larger such birthmarks are far less common.

"It is not contagious and it is rare," Ruthi wrote of the condition. "There are brave children and adults who are challenged by it all over the world."