Due to the large number of countries worldwide allowing dual citizenship, the IDF is experiencing an increase in foreign recruitment. With more than 5,500 lone soldiers – immigrants to Israel without family here – presently serving in both combat and administrative positions in the Israeli army, the IDF has made special efforts to help foreigners acclimate to army life more quickly and efficiently.
“Every soldier is a precious son or daughter, not only to their own parents but also to Israel and the IDF,” noted Dr. John A.I. Grossman, Chairman of LIBI USA, an organization which assists IDF soldiers in need. “We are obligated to assure that everyone who serves has their needs met as if they were our own child.”
To that end, the IDF has increased its efforts to assist immigrant soldiers through the daunting bureaucratic process of drafting to the army and the acquirement of the Hebrew language. Just a few years ago, new immigrants had to navigate the system on their own.
Today, people like 27-year-old Private Leron Ergas help newcomers adjust to army life. Originally from Los Angeles, California, Ergas is proud to be a pioneer in the field of helping soldiers to adjust to their new environment. He notes that when one immigrant is helped successfully, he tells his friends, who tell others, building morale and a sense of accomplishment within the challenging framework of the army.
Yehudis Schamroth, who moved to Israel with her family 15 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland to Ramat Bet Shemesh, takes an active role in helping new immigrant soldiers, acting as a surrogate parent for those alone in the country. Schamroth explained to Breaking Israel News, “My son is presently in the army so I am aware of what these soldiers need. I also appreciate how challenging it is not to have family in Israel to help them. Though all soldiers are heroes, immigrant soldiers have a special place in our hearts.”
LIBI USA steps in where individual efforts like Schamroth’s end. LIBI sponsors holiday meals, purchases badly needed basic supplies, helps needy soldiers complete their educations, including teaching the new immigrants Hebrew and Israeli history, provides medical assistance when it is not covered by the IDF’s regular budget and subsidizes recreational activities.
“Like the IDF, LIBI takes a ‘leave no soldier behind’ stance,” Grossman shared. “Our dedicated donors help us keep our IDF soldiers prepared as well as assist them in a brighter future in civilian Israeli life.”