While friends in their hometowns in North America or Europe are already planning their Master's degree, 30 young men and women came to the Jerusalem IDF Recruitment Center Wednesday to begin their conscription process as part of the Tzofim's Garin Tzabar.
These youth are here to become part of the IDF in active duty, and become immersed in Israeli society. One of them, Ilana Tsur, from Connecticut, is reflective of her near future. She says Israeli reality is starkly different than the American one, wondering how she could survive for weeks in basic training without her cell phone.
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Ilana and her peers are part of a group of 400 men and women, aged 18-22, from the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and South America, who have made aliyah to Israel with hopes of joining the IDF.
Homesick for the dog
Amongst the boys in Garin Tzabar the most requested units are elite volunteer units such as Sayeret Matkal (General Staff Reconnaissance Unit), Shayetet 13 (commandoes), Duvdevan, and the Paratroopers Unit. Girls generally prefer to serve in the IDF Canine Unit "Oketz", to become army medics, or to serve in the IDF Education Corps. Neta Galeb, from Canada, says she feels "Oketz" was made for her, as she loves dogs, and can't wait to start her time in the army.
When asked about life without her family in Israel—especially during the holidays—she has said that the Garin has become somewhat of a family, as well as family members she has who live in the south. Likewise fellow Canadian Nir Frenkel, 22, says he has plenty of family in Israel, and that members of the Garin with families in Israel often take members who have none to celebrate holidays and Sabbaths with them. He sounds motivated yet hesitant about immersing in the Israeli Defense Forces, and says his biggest problem is being homesick, especially for his beloved dog.
Nir Frenkel and Neta Galeb
Tzabar is a unique project which gives young olim a community framework that allows them to more easily face not only social but also bureaucratic difficulties during their aliyah.
At first members live in an ulpan and later on move to young neighborhoods in Jerusalem, with the intention of becoming immersed in daily Israeli life.
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