web analytics
April 21, 2015 / 2 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


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.

Current Top Story
Rav Aharon Lichtenstein
Republished: My Rebbe Rav Aharon Lichtenstein Is Awarded the Israel Prize 2014
Latest News Stories
Amb. Thomas Pickering testified before the  House Armed Services Committee,  about Iran's nuclear program on June 19, 2014.

Forget about Israel, doesn’t Brandeis care about Iran’s abysmal human rights record?

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is steaming towards the Yemeni coast to intercept Iranian ships believed to be supplying the Houthi rebels. April 20, 2015.

As Iran may be re-supplying the Houthis, US warships steam towards Yemen.

A Jewish man with a Russian accent stabbed an Arab worker Monday in Herzliya, next to Tel Aviv, while yelling “Death to Arabs,” police said. The attacker confessed that he intentionally targeted an Arab. The victim suffered light wounds in his shoulder, was treated on the scene and hospitalized. The assailant is a resident of […]

Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile systems deployed in a military exercise.

if Iran tries to move a Russian s-300 antimissile system to Syria or Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel will make sure it doesn’t get there.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his sorrow over the passing of Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein Monday. “Rabbi Lichtenstein’s knowledge found expression in his literary works. He served generations of students,” said the Prime Minister. He added, “When I gave him the Israel Prize a year ago, I saw before my eyes a great rabbi, teacher and […]

“Sexual violence in conflict has become a weapon of choice because it is cheap, silent and effective.”

Saudi Arabia has posted an alert of a possible terror attack on Aramco’s oil facilities and malls in the capital of Riyadh, Bloomberg News reported Monday morning. “We have informed security forces to be on alert and to take any necessary security procedures [against] a possible terrorist attack attempt,” spokesman General Mansour al-Turki told the […]

President Reuven Rivlin granted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu two more weeks Monday morning to form a new government coalition after negotiations with different t parties have not produced a positive result. Rivlin really had no other choice. He would like to see a national unity government with the Likud and the Zionist Union, the euphemism […]

He followed and spread the teachings of his late father-in-law, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik.

An Egyptian court has sentenced an Egyptian man and two Israeli citizens to life in prison for allegedly spying for Israel. The Israeli citizens were sentenced in absentia, and are unlikely to travel to Egypt to serve their sentences. The Egyptian man, Salama Muhammed Saliman, was convicted of giving the two Israelis information regarding both […]

Netanyahu met with children of parents who lost their lives in service to the State of Israel.

Bennett drew his red line on Twitter, but don’t worry. There is a Jewish solution.

Former chief Rome Rabbi Elio Toaff died on Sunday the age of 99, two weeks before what was supposed to be his 100th birthday. He served as chief rabbi of the city for 51 years until 2002 after having served as the chief rabbi of Venice. Rabbi Toaf once prayed with Pope John Paul II, […]

The Egyptian army has destroyed 185 smuggling and terror tunnels under the border between Egypt and Gaza since February, according to the country’s military spokesman. Sixty-nine of them were destroyed in the past three weeks. One of them was more than a mile long and 10 feet deep and was used for smuggling weapons and […]

Israeli workers making a flags of Israel at the Berman’s Flags and Embroidery factory in Jerusalem on April 19, 2015, prior to the Israel 67th Independence day.

More Articles from IDF Spokesperson's Office
Elite soldiers train to kill terrorist kidnappers and rescue hostages.

Terrorists hide with hostages in a building. How can soldiers rescue the victims and kill the captors?

Aharon Karov and his wife Tzvia on their wedding day. hours before he returned to the Gaza front and was critically wounded.

Aharon and Tzvia Karov prove that faith and belief in a better future is what keeps Israel alive.

“I cried not because I had to undergo surgery, but because I had to leave the army.”

“I knew that being there would allow me to protect other soldiers.”

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

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

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

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: