Today, there are more than 6,000 lone soldiers serving in the Israeli Defense Forces. A “lone soldier” is a soldier who has no family in Israel to support him or her. They range from new immigrants, a volunteer from abroad, an orphan or an individual from a broken home.
Lone soldiers join all units of Israeli military. Most lone soldiers who enlist in the IDF are highly motivated to serve and protect Israel. Around 30 percent serve in combat units and about 20 percent serve in combat-support units.
LIBI USA, which works to support Israel’s defenders in all aspects of life, has launched a new initiative to ensure that those who volunteer to defend the Jewish state and leave home are supported.
Karin Meron, 19, grew up in Los Angeles, CA. A graduate of El Camino High School, Meron’s family is affiliated with the Jewish community of Chabad of West Hills. Currently serving in the Israeli Air Force, Meron spoke with LIBI and Breaking Israel News about her decision to leave her family and friends behind to become a defender of the State of Israel.
When did you begin to develop a connection to Israel?
I was raised by two Israeli parents so it is always been a part of my life. It comes naturally to me. I have a lot of extended family in Israel and both my parents and majority of my family served in the IDF. That was a big influence on me and my decision.
When did you enlist in the IDF?
Why did you decide to join the army?
I used to be in Tzofim – the Israeli Scouts in LA – from 3rd to 6th grade. Last year, after graduating high school, I took a gap year on Ardvark and spent a year volunteering and getting to know Israel and growing my love for her. This led to my decision to enlist.
How do your parents feels about you being a lone soldier?
My father passed away two years ago. He knew I was thinking about joining. He himself was in the Air Force and I was also placed in that unit, so I think in some ways it is a sign from above.
How often do you get to go back home and see your family?
My mom came to visit in February but I haven’t seen my siblings since August.
What does being a lone soldier mean to you?
They call us lone soldiers but we are never really alone. There is so much support in this country as a lone soldier, it is heartwarming. I have had a lot of ups and down but overall I am so happy to be protecting my country.
Soldiers in the IDF must pay for much of their own gear. Is there anything your unit could benefit from?
As it gets closer to summer, we could really use camel-back water bottles.
Editor’s Note: If you would like to sponsor camel-back’s for Karin Meron’s unit, click here.
Have you had a moment so far in your service that has been especially meaningful?
For Yom Ha’Shoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) we had a ceremony on my base where a survivor spoke and she was given a special award. It was that moment when the siren went off and I was standing in there in uniform, I just felt so proud.