While serving as a Lone Soldier in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) can be extremely rewarding and fulfilling, it can leave these young men and women with little free time to tend to their personal errands. For these soldiers, thousands of miles away from their families and homes and with no immediate family in Israel, knowing what rights they are entitled to and which benefits they can receive, requires some extra assistance.
That is why Nefesh B’Nefesh and Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), in full cooperation with the IDF, hosted its 7th annual “Yom Siddurim” (personal errands day) for Lone Soldiers on February 13th at Beit HaChayal.
The Errands Day, in cooperation with the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, Ministry of Interior, The Jewish Agency, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, the Jewish National Fund-USA, and with the assistance of Yahad – United for Israel’s Soldiers, gathered together all of the essential civilian agencies whose services Lone Soldiers need, to help relieve the stress of going to various offices in order to take care of logistical requirements. Over 2,000 Lone Soldiers from 70 countries attended the personal errands day.
“Military service in the IDF is difficult and challenging for every soldier, and even more so for Lone Soldiers. Their decision to come to Israel and enlist in the IDF is a brave and noble act, one that is rooted in a deep sense of mission, determination, and love of the State of Israel. This is true Zionism,” said Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir, FIDF National Director and CEO. “The Friends of the Israel Defense Forces will continue to stand by their side and provide them with educational, cultural, recreational, and financial support during and after their military service, out of profound appreciation and respect for their contribution, and to ensure that although they are far from home, they never feel alone.”
Organized in conjunction with the IDF Human Resources Department, Yom Siddurim acts as a one-stop-shop for Lone Soldiers to complete a range of necessary errands. They were given access to driving tests administered on site, employment and academic workshops for after the army, insurance providers, and much more. Nefesh B’Nefesh and FIDF also provided an opportunity for the soldiers to receive one-on-one personal interviews on acclimating into post-Army life in Israel.
“Since before Israel’s independence, remarkable individuals from around the world have made Aliyah and served in the IDF, playing a crucial role in defending the Jewish state,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh. “We are constantly exploring different ways to improve and enhance our support and programming for these brave men and women. The NBN – FIDF Personal Errands Day is our way of showing these soldiers that we are dedicated to their welfare, allowing them the freedom to concentrate on their important service.”
“I just got my driver’s license and plan to take care of municipal tax issues, which is great, because with the hectic pace of the army it’s difficult to get these things done,” Lone Soldier Joe Brikman from Texas said at the event. Brikman, who made Aliya, explained his decision to join the IDF by recalling his visit two to Israel two years ago: “I was visiting Israel and absolutely loved it, but there were several security incidents at the time and I thought I can’t just sit on the sidelines and let this happen.”
Minister of Aliyah and Integration, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yoav Gallant, Minister of the Interior and Minister of the Development of the Negev and Galilee, Aryeh Deri, Minister of Transport and Road Safety, Betzalel Smotrich, Gal Sharabi, Tel Aviv City Council Member, and senior IDF Commanders were present to offer their support and assistance to the soldiers.
The agencies who participated in Yom Siddurim included: Israel’s Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, Student Licensing Office, Ministry of Housing, Automobile License Authority, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Yahad – United for Israel’s Soldiers, Bituach Leumi, Discharged Soldiers Guidance Department, Electric Company of Israel, and more. Representatives of the FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship Program were also present to assist with inquiries about post-Army higher education.