Twelve future lone soldiers were among new immigrants who landed this week on a Nefesh B’Nefesh Group Aliyah Flight, in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-JNF-USA and Tzofim-Garin Tzabar.

They are among 161 lone soldiers from North America scheduled to make aliyah this summer, with approximately 300 expected to arrive by the end of 2021.

Upon becoming Israeli citizens, the young men and women will enlist in the Israel Defense Forces as required by Israeli law.

“After a short semester in Israel, I fell in love with the country and made the decision to return after I graduate high school and join the IDF,” said future lone soldier Sarah Rocco, 18, from Trumbull, Conn. “I’m finally making my dream come true and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it. I aspire to be a medic in the army but am happy to contribute in any position and any way needed.”

Once enlisted, the new olim become part of the Nefesh B’Nefesh and Friends of the IDF (FIDF) Lone Soldiers Program, which cares for some 3,500 soldiers from around the world currently in active service. This program, with the full support of the IDF, offers guidance and support for all lone soldier olim during each stage of their service, after their release from the army and during the adjustment stages to civilian life.

“It is remarkable to see that despite the obstacles and challenges over the last year-and-a-half, these young men and women bravely pick up their lives and leave their families in order to contribute to the Jewish state,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, co-founder and executive director of Nefesh B’Nefesh. “These future lone soldiers instill in all of us a huge sense of pride and embody the essence of Zionism by choosing to protect and serve the State of Israel.”

Twin sisters Ziv and Noam Wahba from the U.S. state of Georgia at Miami International Airport before their aliyah flight to Israel, Aug. 10, 2021. Photo by Yonit Schiller.

Steven Weil, CEO of FIDF: “It warms my heart to witness the dedication and sacrifice of young people choosing to leave their families and all that is familiar behind to come to Israel and defend the Jewish homeland and its people, especially in this particularly challenging year. We at FIDF will continue to support our beloved soldiers and strive to ensure that no lone soldier ever feels truly alone.”

The majority of future lone soldiers expected this year hail from New York, New Jersey, California, Florida and Canada. Some 57 percent of draftees are men and 43 percent women; the youngest was 17 at the time of her aliyah, and the oldest is 27.

“It is exciting to see that many young Jews over the age of 18, imbued with Zionism and a love of Israel, return to our land to defend it and give of themselves to ensure the continued safety of the State of Israel,” said Israel’s Minister of Aliyah and Integration Pnina Tamano-Shata. “I and the whole nation of Israel salute them.”

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