Despite the distance from their parents and families, coronavirus and the challenges of serving in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the Lone Soldiers of Israel do not regret the decision to immigrate to the Jewish state and serve in the army. “Every morning when put on my uniform I feel my connection with Israel gets stronger,” says Sergio Goldberg, a new immigrant from Spain.
About 3,000 soldiers have immigrated without their families to Israel this year from 70 countries to serve in the IDF. During the Corona crisis, loneliness and the distance from home are felt more than usual. On the other hand, many of the soldiers feel safer and more protected here than in their corona-stricken countries of origin, such as Spain, Italy, the US and England.
Goldberg, who serves in the Golani infantry brigade, celebrated his birthday for the first time in Israel on Independence Day. He sent a message to his buddies back home who were describing the situation there as horrible, telling them that here in Israel “even my parents aren’t worried about me.” Goldberg added, “I experienced antisemitism as a youth and realized that I should make Aliyah (immigrate to Israel) and serve in the IDF. My birthday occurred on Independence Day this week and reinforces the deep connection I feel with Israel.”
Born and raised in the US, Mizrahi Tal celebrated her 19th birthday while in training at one of the Iron Dome batteries. “My parents are in Las Vegas and the situation is not great. So they are calm knowing that I am here on base and not going out. Also the Nefesh B’Nefesh program and Friends of the IDF (FIDF) care for us all. I was born on the same day as Israel’s Independence Day and was taught to love this country. That is why I chose to immigrate to Israel and enlist in the IDF,” she says.
Michael Namani is a Lone Soldier who immigrated from England. He serves as a paratrooper and also celebrated his birthday on Independence Day. “I never dreamed of celebrating a birthday while wearing an IDF uniform guarding my homeland. What a great privilege!” he said.
Nefesh B’Nefesh director Noya Govrin stated: “Our mission is to embrace and strengthen the Lone Solders and this is particularly crucial during the Corona crisis. We provide packages, including purchasing leftover food from farmers to help them as well, and we do everything possible to give the soldiers a feeling of home.”