Cpl. Maya Liss, 24, an immigrant from the U.S. who made her way to Israel with the help of the Nefesh B’Nefesh organization, received an excellence award on Wednesday from Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai, head of the Israel Defense Forces Personnel Directorate.
Liss was cited for her outstanding service in the IDF's Meitav unit, where she served as a coordinator for new immigrants. The unit is responsible for screening and placing new IDF recruits in their respective corps or basic training programs.
Liss, originally from Los Angeles, arrived in Israel in December 2010 on a Nefesh B'Nefesh group aliyah flight organized in coordination with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and the Jewish Agency.
In a statement, Nefesh B'Nefesh said that despite being told she was too old to serve in the IDF, Liss, who was 23 at the time, persisted and succeeded in joining the military shortly after her arrival in Israel. Native Israelis are normally recruited at age 18.
“I decided to dedicate my life to advocating for Israel and the Jewish people,” Liss said. “I felt that to be the best advocate I had to be an Israeli, and what better way to start my life as an Israeli than to serve in the IDF?”
When asked about her service in the Meitav unit, Liss said “Nefesh B’Nefesh and the IDF’s aliyah absorption offices assisted me with my placement in the army and I am grateful that I have been able to give back by helping other olim (immigrants) who want to serve their country.”
Nefesh B’Nefesh was established in 2002, in coordination with the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency, to revitalize aliyah from North America and the U.K. "by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of aliyah," according to their website.