Every year, thousands of young men and women from around the world travel to Israel to join the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Usually, they come with no family, no established support network, and no ability to speak Hebrew, making this one of the hardest moves of their lives. Starting a new life without any immediate support from friends or family is challenging – especially when combining it with a combat role – but the Israeli government and numerous organizations have stepped forward to offer support to all lone soldiers. This includes financial benefits, time off to visit family abroad, and even help with finding a home and home appliances, learning the language and assimilating into the Israeli culture.
If you need help and you’re currently serving, thinking about making the transition, or even a friend of a lone soldier (or ‘Chayal Boded’ in Hebrew), there are plenty of places to turn. You might be a lone soldier, but these resources will all make sure that you don’t feel alone.
- The Lone Soldier Center (of course!)
The Lone Soldier Center was founded in memory of Michael Levin Z”L. We are an organization founded and run by former lone soldiers, so we’ve been in your shoes and understand exactly how you feel and what you need help with! We can help with everything you need as a lone soldier and provide basic necessities including community, food, laundry, housing, appliances, advice, emotional support, and much more. Come hang out at the Center on Fridays to meet other lone soldiers, talk to advisors, hang out with our staff and bnot sherut and eat pizza!
- Tsevet Mikey
Tsevet Mikey is the Lone Soldier Center’s IDF preparation program for lone soldiers from around the world. There are program for soldiers for drafting combat and non-combat soldiers which are focused on creating the next generation of excellent IDF soldiers, commanders and leaders in Israeli society.
Tsevet Mikey, named for fallen soldier Michael Levin z”l, meets a few times a week and training includes combat fitness, 30-40km masaot (rucksack treks), and an extensive education plan including combat medicine, navigation, leadership and IDF lessons. This outstanding program is run voluntarily by ex IDF commanders and special forces soldier and is completely free!
- Draft IDF Website
Draft IDF is a thorough resources for lone soldiers to turn to for a wealth of information about drafting and the IDF. The site helps lone soldiers step-by-step through the process of drafting to the IDF. It also provides guidance to help soldiers familiarize themselves with the different IDF units.
Draft IDF was founded to help soldiers during the drafting process. They have a blog written by soldiers, which soldiers can use for before, during, and after serving the IDF. Head over there and check it out!
- Mahal IDF Volunteers
This is a fantastic resource for anyone who is still in the planning stages, before you join the IDF. This is a voluntary organization which offers advice, guidance and support on everything from discovering how to join the Israeli army through to step-by-step guides to help you through your enlistment. There are also stories from other lone soldiers who have been through the process to help you realize that you are not alone.
- Garin Tzabar
Garin Tzabar is a unique resource that prepares immigrants and returning citizens for the IDF and provides them a place to live on a Kibbutz in Israel for the duration of the program and their army service. The program prepares soldiers mentally, physically, and socially for living in Israel and serving in the IDF. For soldiers struggling to cope with the stress of IDF, the organization offers social counseling for additional support.