(Courtesy of Nefesh B’Nefesh) Twelve future lone soldiers were among the olim who landed this week on a Nefesh B’Nefesh group aliyah flight, in cooperation with the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, JNF-USA and Tzofim-Garin Tzabar. These future Lone Soldiers are among 161 lone soldiers from North America making aliyah this summer, with approximately 300 expected to arrive by the end of 2021. These young men and women, once becoming Israeli citizens, will enlist in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as required by Israeli law.
Once enlisted, these olim become part of the Nefesh B’Nefesh and Friends of the IDF (FIDF) Lone Soldiers Program which cares for some 3500 olim soldiers from around the world currently in active service. This program, with the full support of the IDF, offers guidance, support and care for all lone soldier olim during each stage of their service, after release from the army, and during the adjustment back to civilian life.
“These 160 young men and women who came to Israel from the United States are some of the best of the Jewish people. It is exciting to see that many young Jews over the age of 18, imbued with Zionism and a love of Israel, return to our land to defend it and give of themselves to ensure the continued safety of the State of Israel,” said Minister of Aliyah and Integration Pnina Tamano-Shata. “The Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, under my leadership, will assist these young people participating in Garin Tzabar as lone soldiers, and we will make sure that they feel at home here. Their contribution is a heritage asset to Israel, and they join the 460 young men and women who came to Israel with the Garin Tzabar project since the beginning of 2020 to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. I and the whole nation of Israel salute them.”
“It is remarkable to see, that despite the obstacles and challenges over the last year and a half, these young men and women bravely pick up their lives and leave their families in order to contribute to the Jewish State,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, co-founder and executive director of Nefesh B’Nefesh. “These future lone soldiers instill in all of us a huge sense of pride and embody the essence of Zionism by choosing to protect and serve the State of Israel.”
Steven Weil, CEO of FIDF: “It warms my heart to witness the dedication and sacrifice of young people choosing to leave their families and all that is familiar behind, to come to Israel and defend the Jewish homeland and its people, especially in this particularly challenging year. We at FIDF will continue to support our beloved soldiers and strive to ensure that no lone soldier ever feels truly alone.”
Yaakov Hagoel, chairman of the World Zionist Organization and acting chairman of The Jewish Agency: “The Jewish people salute you, our dear young people. The decision to enlist in the IDF when you have endless possibilities for personal advancement is not taken for granted. I am proud of you all and thank you for the desire to contribute to the State of Israel. Welcome home to the Land of Israel.”
“For many years, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, together with the Nefesh B’Nefesh, has been leading a national project to encourage the settlement of new olim in the Negev and the Galilee,” said Ronnie Vinnikov, CDO of Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael. “KKL, an organization that is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year, has been working for decades to promote aliyah. We are proud of the young men and women who are making aliyah and helping to strengthen Israel and its national security.”
“After a short semester in Israel I just fell in love with the country and made the decision to return after I graduate high school and join the IDF,” said future lone soldier Sarah Rocco, 18, from Trumbull, CT. “I’m finally making my dream come true and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it. I aspire to be a medic in the army but am happy to contribute in any position and any way needed.”
Elad Sanderovich, executive director of Tzofim Tzabar Olami, added: “This month 300 young adults will make aliyah with Garin Tzabar and will join the IDF as lone soldiers. We are proud to be part of their life and accompany them in the last year leading to their aliyah. We will continue to be there home away from home leading to their enlistment date and throughout their military service.”
The majority of the future lone soldiers expected this year hail from New York, New Jersey, California, Florida and Ontario and will make the Gush Dan, Jerusalem, Northern and Southern regions of Israel their home. 57% of the future draftees are men and 43% are women, the youngest was 17 at the time of her aliyah and the oldest is 27.