Every year, young soldiers from overseas are enlisted into the Israeli Defense Forces through the Garin Tzabar program. The distance from their families and friends combined with the acclimation to their new country makes their service especially challenging. This year, however, at least for five pairs of brothers from the United States and Australia, the experience should be somewhat less difficult.
This year’s group, numbering 300 young people, is the biggest since the project began in 1991. In addition, for the first time, it includes ten young people that will be spending their stint in service with a brother or a sister.
Jack and Ariela from Chicago have an older brother that already made aliyah and served in the IDF as a lone soldier. They’re now fulfilling a dream by following in his footsteps.
Twins, Effy and Hezi from Sydney grew up in a strong pro-Israel home. Their parents are now planning to join them in Israel.
Udi Shani, Director of the Defense Ministry, met two members of the group on Sunday night and told them: “I bless you upon your decision to come to Israel and be inducted into the IDF, to experience for yourselves the lives of Israeli citizens and to contribute to Israel’s security and success, as well as to act as pioneers for your families.”
Garin Tzabar is a program that assists Jewish and Israeli youth who have been living out of the country for many years, mostly from North America, and who are interested in making aliyah and serving in the IDF. The program begins with activities of the Tzofim (Israeli Scouts) movement in their countries. When these young people arrive in Israel, they are placed in an adoptive kibbutz, taught Hebrew, taken on tours of the country and ultimately are inducted into the IDF.
More than 70 percent of the participants in this program remain living in Israel after their military service, and close to percent of their families generally follow them and move to Israel.
CLARIFICATION: This article stated erroneously that Twins Effy and Hezi from Sydney are not Jewish. We apologize for the mistake. We received an email from their family that they are indeed—and have always been—Jewish. We hope that this correction will rectify our error.