One hundred and twenty-seven young American and Canadian immigrants will arrive in Israel on Tuesday to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces. The record number of North American new immigrants ensliting in the IDF are part of an overall group of 350 olim who will touch down at Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday morning.
The newcomers will be welcomed with a special ceremony attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and head of the IDF Manpower Directorate Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai, as well as hundreds of other guests.
The future soldiers are arriving in Israel on a special flight organized by Nefesh B'Nefesh and Friends of the IDF, in cooperation with the Absorption Ministry, Jewish Agency, Jewish National Fund, and Garin Tzabar (a program supporting lone soldiers).
A vast majority of the immigrant soldiers have requested to serve in combat units.
"Enlisting in the IDF feels like the right thing to do, and I want to be part of something that is bigger than me," said Alona Bargi, a 22-year-old from San Francisco who is hoping to serve as a frontline medic. "It will also help me to integrate into Israeli society."
Alona has a sister, Li, who immigrated alone to Israel last year and enlisted in the IDF.
"My mother is excited," Bargi said. "She never thought we'd move to Israel, and now here we're doing it, one after the other."
Around 2,700 lone soldiers from around the world currently serve in the IDF. Nefesh B'Nefesh and the FIDF have jointly created a program to help new immigrants successfully integrate into the Israeli army and society. Immigrant soldiers are given aid during their service, including financial grants, social assistance, and gift baskets. Upon release, they receive personal, career, and academic counseling. The FIDF operates year-round to aid lone soldiers, and funds around 400 flights annually for lone soldiers to visit their families abroad.
Family and friends around the world can watch a live feed of the new immigrants landing in Israel and follow the welcoming ceremony on Tuesday from 0715 Israel time via a dedicated online webcast at www.nbn.org.il/live and on Twitter using the hashtag #nbnlive.
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