web analytics
August 27, 2014 / 1 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



IDF’s Arizona Girl Receives ‘President’s Excellence Award’

Nira Lee grew up in Tempe, Arizona as a Zionist but firmly planted in the USA, until she saw the destruction following the Second Lebanon War during a visit to Israel. Now she is Lieutenant in the IDF.
Nira Lee - from Tempe, Arizona to recipient of President Peres' Excellence Award as IDF Lieutenant

Nira Lee - from Tempe, Arizona to recipient of President Peres' Excellence Award as IDF Lieutenant
Photo Credit: IDF

President Shimon Peres last week presented the annual President’s Citation of Excellence to a native of Arizona, 24-year-old lone soldier 2nd Lt. Nira Lee.

She grew up in Tempe, Arizona, in a Zionist household, but she had no intention of making aliyah. Her first trip to Israel was in 2004, when at age 16 she attended a group discovery trip with the B’nei B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO). “At that time, I did not feel a special connection to Israel nor a personal obligation to be here,” 2nd Lt. Lee explained.

On her second trip to Israel, during her first year in university, everything changed. She volunteered on a trip with Hillel to live in Akko and rebuild a school that had been destroyed in the 2006 Second Lebanon War. According to 2nd Lt. Lee, “being in the periphery and not necessarily touring the popular sites of Israel helped show me the different side of Israel. It showed me the people who needed help, and that was the first time I personally felt connected to this country.”

After that experience, 2nd Lt. Lee decided to support Israel from the inside. At the time, she was studying International Relations at AmericanUniversity in WashingtonD.C., and decided to do a test run by studying abroad in Haifa during her third year. “I chose Haifa because I understood it to be a much more authentic environment, one that seems closest to normal life in Israel,” she said.

The test run proved difficult for 2nd Lt. Lee. She knew no Hebrew. She was also overweight and in poor physical health. “I decided that if I wanted to help Israel, I would have to make a few personal changes first,” she said.

In 2008, 2nd Lt. Lee was in Israel when the security situation in Gaza deteriorated and Operation Cast Lead was initiated. The IDF called up reserves, many of whom were friends of 2nd Lt. Lee’s. “Being there during Operation Cast Lead and feeling so futile made me want to enlist in the IDF. Seeing my friends being called up while I remained in the comfort of my dorm room made me want to join them.”

Second Lt. Lee decided there and then that the next time Israel’s citizens would be called to defend the state, she would be among them. Following her year abroad, Nira learned to speak Hebrew fluently and, through personal determination and strength, lost 55 pounds on her path to physical health.

She made aliyah in May 2010 and enlisted as a lone soldier in the IDF five months later. At first, the transition was difficult. “No one knows the difficulties of being a lone soldier,” she said, adding that finding a place to live and setting up her life were great challenges.

Her commanders noticed that she was struggling and made great efforts to help her. “My commanders made it possible for me to have normal soldier concerns, rather than concerns such as where I would sleep that night or if I would have food to put on my plate. Instead of worrying about a place to do my laundry, and ending up washing my clothes in the shower at the base, I was able to focus on the reason I was there: my job in the army,” she said.

She completed the IDF Officers Course in 2011 and became the deputy liaison officer to the international community in the Gaza Strip. She is currently responsible for assisting in foreign access and the transfer of medical supplies into Gaza.

This week, 2nd Lt. Lee will be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. She has been in the IDF for almost three years and is signed on for another six months. After completing her military service, she plans to earn a master’s degree in security and diplomacy at TelAvivUniversity.

After she received the President’s Citation of Excellence on Israel’s 65th Independence Day, she said, “It’s a huge honor for me to receive this award. Being a new immigrant, there are certainly times you feel you do not fit in, but the army is the epitome of how this country unites people.”

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “IDF’s Arizona Girl Receives ‘President’s Excellence Award’”

  1. Gary Stevens says:

    What does a lone soldier mean? Don't the soldiers live on a military base?

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The three salesmen -Netanyahu, Ya'alon and Gantz
Netanyahu Tries to Sell Bill of Goods that Israel Won Goals in the War
Latest News Stories
The three salesmen -Netanyahu, Ya'alon and Gantz

Has Netanyahu ever heard of Lincoln’s phrase, “You cannot fool all of the people all of the time?”

Strike on Golan Yekev

This shot may have come from a Syrian tank…

Engineering Corp soldier looking down a Palestinian-dug tunnel.

Hamas recently indicated to international press that it would continue building up its underground network while restocking arsenal, rockets and other weaponry

Teh Iranian weapons ship Klos C

Iran vowed on Monday to “accelerate” its rearming of PA Arabs in Judea and Samaria, one day after it claimed that it shot down an Israeli spy drone over its airspace.

The case of missing U.S. yeshiva student Aaron Sofer, studying in Israel, remains unsolved after six days.

“We are strong chassidic women and we take the name, we embrace it, and we own it.”

After a month, should the quiet hold, Israel and Hamas will restart indirect negotiations in Cairo on easing Israel’s blockade of the coastal strip and disarming the enclave.

Israel’s political landscape awoke Wednesday to the latest ceasefire with a sharp round of criticism for Prime Minister Netanyahu, and jostling for position amongst senior politicians who have begun to smell the aroma of early elections, possibly in the first half of 2015.

Palestinian terrorists threw stones at Jewish-owned cars in the Wadi Joz section of Jerusalem Wednesday. Three children were injured and treated on the spot. A 22-year-old man was arrested, and police told Israel Radio the man has confessed to other incidents as well. In Shuafat, in northern Jerusalem, Palestinians threw rocks at the Jerusalem light […]

Nearly 90 percent of Gaza residents support attacks on Israel, say rockets help ‘deterrence’

Chaim Yellin: We don’t want government support. We need quiet in the morning.

Mortar fire crossed the border into northern Israel from Syria near Quneitra. Two cars were damaged. Accidental shelling?

NYC lawmaker Laurie Cumbo presses Miami-Dade officials to find Rabbi Joseph Raksin’s murderer.

Former US Middle East envoy Martin Indyk warns Israel’s self-defense in Gaza has increased tensions with Washington – again.

A baby was hurt when Palestinian terrorists stoned the car she was driving in near the Samaria community of Yitzhar this morning. According to reports on the Hebrew-language 0404 website, the driver of the vehicle escaped the scene of the attack and reached a nearby IDF base safely. There, the baby was treated for her […]

The Zara clothing firm fell ‘fashion flat’ with a toddler tee allegedly a “sheriff’s shirt” in Israel – bearing a yellow, 6-pointed star.

More Articles from IDF Spokesperson's Office
Blurred faces, for security reasons, lead the IDF's secret defense against anti-Israel cyber warfare.

One missile explosion on Tel Aviv could cause a local disaster. One successful Hamas hack of IDF secrets could cause a national disaster.

Lt. Eitan

During Operation Protective Edge, IDF soldiers were faced with deadly risks in the Gaza Strip. Sixty four soldiers were killed and many more were wounded in combat. This is the story of one IDF commander who put his life in danger to rescue a soldier kidnapped by Hamas. Lt. Eitan, 23, joined the elite unit […]

Sgt. O’s commander: “We do not fight indiscriminately. We are an army not a terrorist organization.”

The discovery of a Hamas “urban warfare” manual by IDF forces reveals Hamas’ callous use of Gazans

IDF video of 1st day in Gaza, Operation Protective Edge

Hamas dramatically upgraded its weapons stockpile, placing millions of Israeli civilians at risk.

Terrorists involved in the rockets launched at Israel last week were targeted Friday by the IAF.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/116979/2013/04/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: