Friday, February 26, 2021

Your family has always had a strong connection to Israel. Maybe you have family in Israel. Maybe you have friends in Israel or studied in Israel. Maybe you feel deeply connected to Eretz Yisrael because it is our ancestral home and you know our history. You have passed on these strong bonds of connection to your children. Your children have studied about Eretz Yisrael in their school’s Tanach and Navi classes.

Now, your 11th or 12th grader, an almost adult, is telling you that they want to be a real part of this connection and a part of something greater than just themselves. They want to serve Israel.

So what do you do? Well, Israel's Michael Levin Base just might have the solution. Due to the rising numbers of students who are choosing to become Lone Soldiers and lone b’not sherut each year and are in need of extra support before they arrive, the Michael Levin Base decided to assist this population by creating online workshops. These workshops are designed specifically for all students and pre-aliyah families who are looking to come to Israel and join the IDF or sheirut leumi. The Michael Levin Base provides this new and exciting opportunity free of charge.

The sessions are for informational purposes only and to help guide and assist parents and their 11th or 12th grader with their next stage in life, their connection to Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael, and their dream of strengthening Israel. The workshops help families learn about options for high school graduates, including gap year programs, the IDF, and national service. For 12th graders, there is a workshop and Q&A for those considering joining the IDF and one for those considering sherut leumi. Both workshops have information for parents..

Workshops include general pre information for 11th and 12th graders who are interested in joining the IDF or just want to learn about it and general pre information for 11th and 12th grade girls who are interested in serving in sheirut leumi or just want to learn about it.

The workshops also provide general information on the actual application process, and information on the service member’s options, including Yeshivot Hesder and Mechinot. Additionally, there is a one-on-one Zoom meeting with an adviser that includes information about understanding time management, work expectations and free time. The financial costs and obligation of cost as a soldier or bat sheirut before serving, during service, and post service are also discussed. These Zoom sessions can be also created for whole classes or custom tailored to meet any specific needs.

The Base does not look to recruit or encourage anyone to join the IDF or to become a bat sheirut. In some cases, after a session is over, the teen and/or their family may realize that perhaps the army or national service is not the correct choice. What the Base sessions do provide, however, are the proper tools to help make an informed decision. They also help remove the “glamour” and answer many tough questions that must be answered before coming to Israel. It is hoped that these sessions will create a connection to Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael and that students and families will have the information they need to choose what works best for them.

Michael was a lone soldier from Philadelphia. He was killed fighting in Lebanon in 2006. His dream to provide support for lone soldiers lives on through the Michael Levin Base, run by co-directors Bonnie Rosenbaum and Lizzie Noach. The Base has expanded Michael’s dream to include Lone sherut leumi.

“The Base” is located in Jerusalem at 10 Hadekel Street, adjacent to Machane Yehuda. Because it is too overwhelming to do it alone as a soldier, Michael said, “When I get out, I will create a place that supports lone service members, a place they can reach out to and call home.” Michael spoke about this openly, to his unit, friends,and family. For information, email Ari Wruble, senior adviser at [email protected]; [email protected]; or by calling 02-655-1920.

Susan R. Eisenstein is a longtime Jewish educator passionate about creating special innovative activities for her students. She is also passionate about writing about Jewish topics and Israel. Susan has two master’s degrees and a doctorate in education from Columbia University.