Jerusalem, August 13, 2020 – Two weeks after making Aliyah, some 15 future Lone Soldiers joined Israel’s Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel in a 5k run in Jerusalem in advance of their IDF draft.

Minister Hendel expressed interest in meeting a group of recent Olim who were planning to draft into the army, but asked that the meeting take place in a less conventional format – as a pre-army fitness training session. So, instead of flashes and photo-ops in his ministry, the new Olim lined up in front of a beautiful Jerusalem sunset, as they began a 5-kilometer run with the Minister. Following the run, they continued with a brief physical training in preparation for their soon-to-be IDF service. The soldiers concluded the evening with a candid conversation about their upcoming draft into the IDF and received tips for their service.

IDF Lone Soldiers are joined by Israeli Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel for a 5k run in Jerusalem, August 13, 2020. Credit: Yonit Schiller

These Olim are part of a group of some 80 young men and women who will soon enlist as Lone Soldiers, those volunteering to serve in the IDF without immediate family living in Israel, joining 3,500 Lone Soldiers from around the world under the Nefesh B’Nefesh-Friends of the IDF (FIDF) Lone Soldiers Program. Once they become Israeli citizens, they enlist in the IDF as required of all Israelis at the age of 18. They landed in Israel two weeks ago through Nefesh B’Nefesh, in cooperation with the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption, the Jewish Agency, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and JNF- USA.

“There are those who would rather emphasize the friction between the Diaspora Jewish community and Israel, but instead we should salute these young new Olim who have packed up their bags and moved to Israel out of pure Zionism and are helping to strengthen this relationship,” said Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel. “It is beyond inspiring.”

“Nothing makes me prouder than to run tonight with an Israeli flag overlooking Jerusalem. I’m honored and privileged to have been welcomed into this country with open arms and am lucky to serve this beautiful land,” said Zachary Margulis, originally from California, who participated in the run last night.

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Nefesh B'Nefesh
Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Israeli government and The Jewish Agency for Israel, is dedicated to revitalizing Aliyah from North America and the UK by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of Aliyah. The support and comprehensive social services provided by Nefesh B'Nefesh to its over 60,000 newcomers has ensured that over 90% of its Olim have remained in Israel.
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