For most soldiers drafted into the IDF, the enlistment process is a long and drawn-out affair. Initially, they receive their tzav rishon, which notifies them that they must make their first appearance in front of army recruitment officials. After that, it is a series of psychological and physical tests that determine which unit is the best fit for them. This long and arduous process – which can take over a year – is usually done with doting mothers and fathers by their side who are engrossed by every aspect of this rite of passage.
But for lone soldiers, they often contend the process alone, with parents an ocean away.
Of course, there are organizations that help them along the way, Yahad-United for Israel Soldiers being chief among them. But even organizations like Yahad are aware that nothing can replace the warm embrace of a parent during this nerve-wracking time in a young adult’s life.
These lone soldiers are following in the footsteps of other brave foreigners who came to serve in the IDF. In fact, immediately post-WWII, many became fighter pilots in the Machal Unit (Foreign Fighters) leading Israel first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion to hail them as “the Diaspora’s most important contribution to the survival of the Jewish state.”This is why Yahad does what it can to help ease the burden for these lone soldiers – many of whom come to Israel with not much more than the clothes on their backs and commit to fighting for the Jewish state.
For example, the shopping list of items needed is expensive. The IDF recommends each soldier arrive at the base with long underwear, portable phone charges, leatherman utility tools, basic toiletries and much more. That basic laundry list alone can cost hundreds of shekels that many lone soldiers. Living off a paltry stipend, these items are challenging to afford.
Therefore, specifically, during the recruitment period, Yahad provides all soldiers, with gift cards from Yoter, helping them to pay for the recommended list of items.
Yahad, a joint organization of AWIS (Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers) and The Libi Fund is the official body for donations that benefit the soldiers of the IDF. And since the organization has no overhead costs, it makes sure that 100% of the donations go directly to IDF soldiers who need aid the most.
For lone soldiers, the need is oftentimes greater than other soldiers who have the luxury of having family close by.
Those lucky ones either go home every weekend or when they have to stay on base, know that mom and dad are just a car ride away and will happily deliver home-baked goodies to their child and his or her fellow soldiers.
At best, a lone soldier will see their parents twice a year. Once when they come to Israel and the next e when the soldier is able to fly back home.
Israeli officials and non-profits are acutely aware of their sacrifice.
Earlier this month, President Reuven Rivlin met with mothers of lone soldiers and told them that “your children are not really lone soldiers, because they are with us.”
Rivlin even chooses to spend his Passover seder with these selfless men and women.
Yahad has many resources in place to ensure their time in the IDF is as smooth as possible. From helping finance their college education to providing annual “fun days,” to help them pay rent for their apartment, the organization prides itself on providing a safety net that every soldier needs.
“We understand the host of challenges inherent in being a combat soldier, which is why Yahad is always striving to provide a myriad of initiatives to aid these men and women during their service,” explained Gen. (res.) Yechiel Gozal, CEO of Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers,
To donate to the welfare of Israel’s soldiers, please click here.
Written in cooperation with Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers.