At any given time, the Israeli army has over 6,000 lone soldiers in attendance. A lone soldier is someone who has left his family and homeland to protect the Land of Israel by serving in its army. He or she can be a new immigrant, a volunteer from abroad, an orphan or someone from a broken home.
However, without proper guidance through Israel’s bureaucracy, help with Hebrew or homes to go to during off-time for warm meals or to do laundry, many of these idealistic soldiers find themselves struggling to stay in the Holy Land after they finish their service.
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Recognizing the importance of helping lone soldiers succeed in Israel, a significant part of donations received by LIBI USA, the official fund of the IDF established in 1980 to provide Israeli soldiers with their educational, religious, and recreational needs, goes towards easing these challenges.
“It is estimated by the Immigration and Absorption Ministry that nearly half of all lone soldiers leave Israel immediately after completing their military serve and of those who stay, another third leave shortly thereafter,” said Dr. John A.I. Grossman, Chairman of LIBI USA. “We know part of this attrition is caused by the daunting task of adjusting to a new life, language, and culture in Israel as well as the struggle to receive a degree in higher education so that one can make a proper living.”
While most lone soldiers state that they joined the Israeli army because “protecting the Holy Land should not fall solely on those who live there” or “both praying and doing for the State of Israel must go hand-in-hand” or “I felt an obligation to contribute to Israel’s safety”, the reality of this altruism is not simple.
“Just as lone soldiers feel dedicated to protecting Israel, LIBI USA feels dedicated to helping these brave men and women succeed at their goals, whether that means finishing their army service or receiving an education from an Israeli college in order to spend the rest of their lives in Israel,” stated Grossman.
While serving, LIBI USA contributes towards lone soldiers learning Hebrew and Jewish history. The organization sponsors tours of the Holy Land as well as rest and relaxation retreats, Passover holiday seders, money for groceries, gift cards on holidays, special lone soldier housing which includes meals and laundry services, flights to visit family back home, tools and training for entering civilian life and more.
LIBI USA is also integrally involved with the army’s latest mission, a program called “Uniform to University”. The goal of this program is to give every soldier a full college or vocational training scholarship to ensure the successful future of both soldiers and the Land of Israel.
“When we hear lone soldiers say that they have chosen to dedicate the best years of their lives to protect Israel and her citizens, we are jolted to give to them as well,” smiled Grossman. “First and foremost, we feel that giving to Israel is means providing for her safety and that means supporting her army.”