web analytics
April 25, 2014 / 25 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



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

Share Button

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.”

Share Button

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.

Leave a comment (Select your commenting platform)

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

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
Mock Eviction Notice shoved under the doors of students' rooms in predominantly Jewish NYU dorm by NYU SJP.
NYU Latest Site of Anti-Israel Mock Eviction Notices
Latest News Stories
Sitting on a street corner

A corner in the Jerusalem Machane Yehuda Mall.

Mock Eviction Notice shoved under the doors of students' rooms in predominantly Jewish NYU dorm by NYU SJP.

NYU SJP students crept into a primarily Jewish dorm and shoved propaganda under the doors of the sleeping students.

Tzipi Livni 2

Even after the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation, Tzipi Livni won’t give up on her obsession with negotiating with the Palestinian Authority – “the door is still open.”

The Association of Tennis Professionals World Tour will play this year in Israel, the first time that Israel has hosted an ATP tournament since 1996, according to the organization. The tournament, offering $1 million in prize money, will take place at the Israel Tennis Center in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat HaSharon Sept. 15-21 […]

The Boycott Movement, like the Palestinian Authority, is slowly but surely dissolving itself.

The Israeli security cabinet unanimously decided today that Israel would not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by Hamas, the terrorist organization that calls for Israel’s destruction. Considered a severe blow to peace talks, the ‘historic’ Hamas-Fatah unity pack was announced on Wednesday following a seven-year power struggle between the two factions. After Hamas’s victory […]

Ostrovsky was beaten and blindfolded during his captivity

Northeastern University has provisionally reinstated the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter on campus. The SJP chapter will remain on probation through January 2015, according to a notification letter from Dr. Laura A. Wankel, the university’s vice president for student affairs. Students for Justice in Palestine was suspended from campus on March 7 for at […]

HAS and El Al are no longer flying the friendly skies together – and loyal customers are getting hurt the most.

Ellen Degeneres gave away SodaStream products to audience members as an eco-friendly Earth Day gift.

Turkey “will strongly support the reconciliation agreement and offer all humanitarian aid” for the Hamas-Fatah unity government that was announced Wednesday,  Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Gaza’s de facto prime minister Ismail Haniyeh. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan became a fan of Hamas five years ago, at the same time relations with Israel […]

Two worshippers in a synagogue on Passover saved a child from death in a burning car that exploded shortly after the rescue. The worshippers rushed to the burning vehicle after hearing the family’ scream for help, and they found the toddler strapped in a car seat. The worshippers, Moshe Kupperman and a second man, identified […]

At the press conference with the Israeli reporters, Abbas threatened to cancel the Oslo Accords, dismantle the Palestinian Authority, and force the Israeli government to pay the salaries of PA employees and the police.

A survivors’ daughter serving in the IDF brings pride and joy to a Holocaust survivor.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Abbas must choose between peace with Israel or Hamas.

Border Police in Yitzhar’s yeshiva have plenty of time on their hands to learn a bit of Torah.

More Articles from IDF Spokesperson's Office
Holocaust survivor Eva Levi and her granddaughter-IDF soldier.

A survivors’ daughter serving in the IDF brings pride and joy to a Holocaust survivor.

The IDF is creating a global interactive Holocaust Survivor Commemoration.

The IDF will take everyone’s #WeAreHere stories and create an interactive, dynamic honor to the Shoah survivors.

Check out the IDF’s most innovative weapons (at least the ones they can tell us about.)

Like Hamas, Hezbollah also builds tunnels. Those tunnels pose a serious danger to IDF border patrols.

The unique skills of people on the autistic spectrum adds great breadth to IDF intelligence work.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

IDF helicopters are ready to act on a moment’s notice to defend the State of Israel.

The Samson Super Hercules aircraft ensures the IDF can safeguard Israel from far beyond her shores.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

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

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: