Almost 500 new immigrants enlisted in the IDF graduated from a special Hebrew course on Wednesday. Many of the soldiers who finished the course are set to join combat units, while the remainder will serve in various posts throughout the army.
Some 40 percent of the graduates, 190, are “lone soldiers” — a term applied to those in Israel without their families — who moved to Israel from 25 countries around the world. About 100 of those lone soldiers, who hail from locales as diverse as Cuba, Denmark and Azerbaijan, will head on to serve in combat units.
The course’s graduation ceremony took place on an army base in the north of Israel, and was attended by Maj.-Gen. Orna Barbivai, who heads the IDF’s Personnel Directorate.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be here after dreaming about this moment for so long,” said Dan Hirsch, a 23-year-old lone soldier from Mexico who was set to serve in one of the navy’s elite combat units. “I was very moved at the ceremony; listening to the Israeli National Anthem while wearing the IDF uniform means a lot to me. This is my generation’s turn to take charge.”
Yaakov Rothstein said that while he’s describe as a lone soldier he didn’t feel alone. The 19-year-old from Colombia said he was “surrounded by many amazing people,” including people from Nefesh B’Nefesh, who help him “feel at home.”
“I’m the happiest person in the world, and I’m looking forward to doing my service for the Jewish people’s army,” Rothstein, who’s hoping to serve in a combat unit, said.
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