May 8, 2024
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May 8, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Nevut Supports Lone Soldier Veterans

By Rabbi Ari Abramowitz

I am a native of Monsey, New York. I served as a lone soldier in the Kfir Combat Unit of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from 2009 to 2010 and now am part of the Carmeli Brigade Reserve Unit.

After completing my service and settling back into civilian life in Monsey, I began to notice the challenges faced by other lone soldiers I knew. We were no longer in Israel where there was a cultural understanding and appreciation for veteran chayalim, soldiers. Additionally, we lacked the support systems available to U.S. service veterans in America. We found ourselves basically on our own, navigating the transition from military to civilian life.

Rabbi Ari Abramowitz, founder and executive director of Nevut, during miluim (reserve duty) in northern Israel.

For us as IDF veterans, one day we might have found ourselves on guard duty in the Shomron, on heightened alert against car rammings, stabbings and other serious acts of terrorism. The next day, when our service came to an end, we simply cut up our IDF ID cards and returned to the U.S. Suddenly, we were forced to readjust to a completely different reality. For many of us, this transition was an enormous struggle. During our service in the IDF, we had structure, purpose and camaraderie. Now we were starting from scratch, searching for new purpose, often alone and battling the challenges of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I soon learned that every year, more than 600 IDF lone soldiers were returning to America.

In 2017, I witnessed a remarkable challenge taking place. The number had risen to thousands of young men and women from around the world who were heading to Israel to serve in the IDF as lone soldiers. These brave individuals left their families behind, shouldered the responsibility of protecting the Jewish people, and sought to make a difference. However, upon completing their service and returning to their home countries, they faced tremendous struggles. I was determined to take on a mission to ensure that these veteran soldiers would not be alone when they finished their courageous service.

The international organization Nevut, meaning to “navigate,” was established for just that mission, to reach out to returning lone soldiers, offering them a listening ear, camaraderie and vital support services. Nevut functions as a constant support for our lone soldier veterans, available to them 24/7. We ensure that they have a listening ear, mental health counseling, resources to employment and education, and a network of fellow lone soldiers who can understand and support each other through their shared experiences and struggles.

In the U.S., there are Nevut chapters across the country. Our local headquarters are based in Montebello, New York. We foster a sense of community among our lone soldiers through local events. We have developed various life-changing programs, including the Rapid Response Team, the Eyes and Ears Initiative for Suicide Prevention, meet-ups and festive shabbatons. We connect our veterans with resources for education, therapy and employment. Our objective is to ensure that lone soldier veterans have the resources and support they need to thrive upon their return to civilian life back home.

Nevut Northern New Jersey chapter event.

I would like to share a Nevut story with you. One morning, I received a call from a veteran I had reached out to a few months earlier. He emotionally shared with me that the previous night, he had taken out his gun and was seriously contemplating the futility of life. He felt that nobody understood what he had been through. But then he recalled our conversation and heard my voice reassuring him and comparing him to a mighty “Macabee” He returned the gun to his drawer and resolved to reach out to me the next day. We spoke at length, and he began therapy through Nevut, attending our events and meet-ups. Today, he is an active member of our Nevut community, rebuilding his life.

During one of our group therapy session meet-ups with one of our participating psychologists, Dr. Eric Pollak, a veteran asked, “Why is life worth living?” His fellow lone soldiers, together with Pollak, engaged him in a meaningful conversation, followed up by ensuring that he received needed help. Some time later, I met him at a wedding where he reminded me of that night: “You guys saved me.” Today he is a happily married man with a beautiful family.

To continue our vital work, Nevut relies upon the support of the community. These soldiers were on the front lines, ensuring our well-being when we visited Israel or sent our sons and daughters for their gap years.

Nevut 2022 Bike Ride launch, Tenafly.

Now it is our turn to be there for them and show our support through participating in our August 27 fundraising event.

Recently in Bergenfield, Nevut held one of its pre-ride events, biking 50 miles in support of our lone soldier veterans. The event was hosted by Yossi Cohn and Eli Fuld. The ride served as preparation for our upcoming Nevut “Ride, Run and Raise” event to be held on Sunday, August 27 at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel. This event will bring together riders, runners and supporters for a very special day, offering 50- and 1000-mile biking options as well as a 10K run. Supporters can contribute through creating a crowdfunding page or through personal donations.

To learn more about Nevut’s “Ride, Run and Raise” event at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel, please visit, email [email protected] or call us at 347-770-4457.

Nevut is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

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