Close to 300 new lone soldiers join IDF with Garin Zofim Tzabar
The ceremony was attended by Minister of Aliyah and Integration Sofa Landver, Dr. Miriam Adelson, as well as Sara Netanyahu and representatives from the IDF and Scouts.
By ANNA AHRONHEIMUpdated: AUGUST 17, 2018 14:36
A group of nearly 300 young lone soldiers are beginning their journey with the IDF through the Scout’s Garin Tzabar program following their welcoming ceremony in Tel Aviv on Thursday.The ceremony was attended by Aliyah and Integration Minister Sofa Landver and Dr. Miriam Adelson, as well as Sara Netanyahu and representatives from the IDF and Scouts.Landver welcomed the new recruits who are set to serve in the IDF in the coming months.“Young Jewish men and women, full of motivation and a sense of mission: you left your homes in order to fulfill Zionist values and serve the country,” she said. “Though you have come without your families, you are not alone – because there is no such thing as a lone soldier. From now on, you are part of the Garin Tzabar family, a part of us – the Israeli family.”Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin sent filmed greetings to the new recruits, congratulating them on their choice to join the IDF as lone soldiers.“I am so happy to greet you today and salute all the soldiers who decided to make aliyah and join the IDF,” Rivlin said. “The decision to leave your friends and home and make aliyah is very brave. You make a wonderful example, you are the true Zionists. You are privileged and we are privileged to have you.”The new lone soldiers came to Israel from all over the world, including the United States (212), Ukraine (16), England (14), Russia (9), France (7), Belarus (6), Canada (4), Germany, Colombia and South Africa with three each, Thailand (2) and one lone soldier each from Switzerland, Finland and the Ivory Coast.AdvertisementOf the new lone soldiers, 161 are women and, according to the Scouts organization, 18% of the female soldiers in the program go on to combat positions, compared with 5.5% of female Israeli soldiers. The oldest recruit is a 25-year-old woman, and the youngest is an 18-year-old man.Among the new recruits was Shira Lukatz, the granddaughter of Dr. Miriam Adelson saluted her saying “we are proud of you and love you. You are all here to 'build and be built.' Israel must be protected, even with great sacrifice."Lukastz addressed the crowd saying that “while the army will be tough...the people standing here with me are not only future soldiers, not only members of Garin Tzabar, they are my family, my supporters and Israel’s backbone.”According to Elad Sandrovitz, CEO of Garin Tzabar, the soldiers will be recruited to serve in 50 different units.“Over the next few months, approximately 100 additional immigrants who are currently attending preparation seminars in their origin countries will join them,” he said. “Behind each of these immigrants there is an amazing Zionist story – and we are proud to be there for them before, during and after their military service.”Founded in 1991, Garin Tzabar helps young Jews and Israelis living abroad who want to return to Israel to serve in the IDF. There are 1,200 soldiers currently in active duty who came through Garin Tzabar.The program requires participants to serve a minimum of two years in the army and provides them with housing and support.According to the program, upon their arrival in Israel participants are “adopted by an Israel community that quickly becomes their home away from home, throughout the duration of their army service.”Many lone soldiers face challenges with little or no assistance through Israel’s bureaucracy, which can be daunting even for those born in Israel. That has led to a significant number of soldiers leaving Israel once they finish their service.Still, about 80% of the participants in the Garin Tzabar program remain in Israel following their discharge from the army.During their service, lone soldiers are entitled to assistance from the state, including monthly living stipends, discounts on electricity bills, exemption from municipal taxes and rental assistance or lodging provided by the Aguda Lema’an Hachayal (“Soldier’s Welfare Association”). Combat soldiers are entitled to extra financial support.Once they complete their military service, lone soldiers receive NIS 12,000 over the course of one year from the army, the option to live for three months in a Beit Hachayal (soldier’s residence), and preparation and financial help to complete their matriculation and psychometric exams.