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Lone soldier Alexis Wasserman.(Photo by: ANNA AHRONHEIM)
Sixth annual ‘errands’ day’ to serve thousands of lone soldiers
By ANNA AHRONHEIM
01/17/2019
There are some 3,500 lone soldiers currently serving in the IDF.
Thousands of lone soldiers from dozens of countries are expected to take part in the upcoming annual “errands’ day” organized by Nefesh B’Nefesh and Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF).

The sixth annual “Yom Siddurim” will take place on January 24 at Beit Hahayal in Tel Aviv in cooperation with the IDF’s Human Resources Department, the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, the Ministry of the Interior, the Jewish Agency, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund and with the assistance of Yahad-United for Israel’s soldiers.

While every lone soldier is entitled to take a day off for personal errands once every two months, many do not have enough time to complete them and find Israel’s bureaucracy intimidating.

“Errands’ day” is a one-stop-shop where essential civilian agencies can help lone soldiers take care of personal affairs such as getting their driver’s license, renew their passports, take care of taxes and other municipal and governmental paperwork.

Additional agencies who will also assist the soldiers will include the Student Licensing Office, the Ministry of Housing, the Automobile License Authority, Bituach Leumi, the Discharged Soldiers Guidance Department, and the Israel Electric Corporation. Representatives of the FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship Program will also be present to assist with inquiries about post-army higher education.

Lone soldiers will also have the opportunity to receive one-on-one personal consultation from Nefesh B’Nefesh and FIDF on acclimating into post-army life.

Currently, there are over 3,500 lone soldiers from around the world serving in the IDF, including over 1,000 from North America alone. In 2018 alone, 393 lone soldiers made aliyah through Nefesh B’Nefesh, up from 358 in 2017.

A State Comptroller report released last March found that the IDF has not fully examined the needs of lone soldiers, both those who come from abroad (54%) and those born in Israel, who have no family ties (46%).

Between October 2016 and July 2017, the State Comptroller’s Office examined several aspects related to the treatment of lone soldiers during their military service and after their discharge from the IDF. Meetings were held with representatives of non-profit organizations and others that assist lone soldiers both during and after their military service.

According to the report, there were major deficiencies in terms of housing solutions, donations, ties between the IDF and non-profit organizations, and the assistance given to lone soldiers following their release 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, rental assistance or lodging provided by the Aguda Lema’an Hachayal (Soldier’s Welfare Association) as well as extra financial support for combat soldiers.

Once they complete their military service, lone soldiers receive NIS 12,000 over the course of one year, the option to live for three months in a Beit Hachayal and preparation and financial help to complete their matriculation and psychometric exams.

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