From Manhattan
Photo: AFP
To the army base
Photo: Yael Branovsky

150 American youths to join IDF

Highest number of Jewish American youths enlist in IDF this year with Israeli officials describing them as 'most enthusiastic'

"As opposed to the phenomenon of evasion we are witnessing in Israel, in the United States we met young men and women whose hearts are filled with the will to volunteer and sacrifice for the state," said Tsvika Levy, who supervises young people who make aliya in order to join the army.


"The number of soldiers who will arrive here this year, is larger than ever before, and everybody asked to be recruited into combat units," Levy added, noting that the last two years have seen 120 and 90 American teenagers volunteering to serve in the IDF. Levy looks after the welfare needs of these soldiers, who are based on a kibbutz for the duration of their service.


A small number of the 150 soldiers-to-be arrived in Israel earlier this summer, but most are expected to arrive this month, in time for the draft window between August and November.


Most of the newcomers are aged 18-23 and speak Hebrew. They will arrive in Israel in the framework of the Ztofim's (Israel Scouts) Garin Tzabar – a joint project of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and the Israel Scouts movement that was launched 18 years ago.


About 70 percent of them have Israeli parents who immigrated to the United States, while the others come from Jewish American families.


For the first time, 16 religious American Jews will enlist in the IDF as part of this program.


"They are the most enthusiastic soldiers in the army today," said Nissan Lavi of Kibbutz Yiftah, which will absorb some of the new arrivals. "They are imbued with Zionism and sky-high motivation."


Lavi said that Israeli representatives traveled to the United States where they met with each of the 150 families whose sons and daughters would soon join the ranks of the IDF.


"In some cases parents try to prevent their children from making aliya and serving in the army, and sometimes children rebel against their parents and join the IDF," said Lavi. "All of them heard about last summer's war in Lebanon and they want to contribute to Israel's security."


Anbar Steve, 19, was born in Manhattan to Israeli immigrants. Her father is a senior computer advisor and her mother owns a handful of properties in the city.


Before coming to Israel, she completed her first year in psychology, theater and criminology at New York University.


"I had no hesitations before coming to Israel to join the IDF. Refusing to join the army is an unacceptable phenomenon. I came to Israel to become a combat soldier," she said.


Like all of the volunteers, Anbar will be entitled to financial assistance from the army and will be hosted by an Israeli family.


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פרסום ראשון: 08.05.07, 16:11
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