Fifty-one new immigrants from North America, including 15 soon-to-be IDF “lone soldiers” — those with no immediate family in Israel — arrived in Israel June 29 on a Nefesh B’Nefesh group aliya flight.
Among the newcomers was Rina Mischel, 17, of Highland Park, who said her goal is to serve in Oketz, the IDF’s canine unit. “I come from a long line of soldiers,” she said. “My grandfather fought in Etzel” — Irgun Zva’i Leumi, the prestate underground military movement — “my brother served in the paratroopers during Operation Protective Edge, and my uncle served in the IDF as well.”
On May 1, when high school seniors traditionally put on shirts that declare the college or university they will be attending, Mischel said she “proudly walked into school wearing an olive green T-shirt with yellow olive branches and the word ‘Tzahal’ [IDF] on it.”
Also on the flight was Ben Kravis, 22, of Lambertville, who plans to serve in the IDF as a combat paramedic in one of Israel’s elite units: “When I visited Poland during high school and toured the concentration camps, I completely understood and appreciated why the State of Israel is so important and necessary for the Jewish people,” he said. “I wanted to be a part of protecting it. It’s awesome to support Israel from my community at home but I really wanted to be here and do the work myself.”
“The summer season is our busiest time of year as we work day and night to assist olim throughout their aliya process as well as with their acclimation into Israeli society,” said Nefesh B’Nefesh executive vice-president Zev Gershinsky. “We are especially proud to have the privilege of helping the brave young men and women who make aliya and later on volunteer to serve in the IDF.”