A few months ago, the IDF welcomed more than 330 new soldiers who immigrated to Israel in order to join the army. The new recruits, who hail from all corners of the world, arrived together to an IDF Education Corps base called Michve Alon. For three months they lived together on the base, learning the ways of the IDF and intensely studying Hebrew. The course recently ended, and participants have continued their service in dozens of different IDF units.
One of these soldiers is Vun Zon, a new recruit who came to Israel all the way from China. Zon arrived to Israel in 2007, after finding out his grandfather was half-Jewish. When asked about Zon, his commanders spoke with great admiration.
“To tell you the truth, it’s the first time we ever commanded a Chinese soldier, and it was definitely a great experience,” said one commander. “His joy of life and sheer happiness is unlike anything we had ever seen in a soldier. He understands Hebrew perfectly now, and has really made big progress integrating into Israeli society.”
Another recent graduate from the Michve Alon Hebrew course is Felipe Kisari, born in Italy. While living in Italy, Felipe said he was confronted with a great deal of antisemitism. He recalled getting beaten many times by the children in his neighborhood, simply because he was Jewish.
“I refused to hide the fact I’m Jewish,” he recalled, “even at the price of not fitting and making friends.”
At the age of 16, Felipe moved by himself to England and began school at Oxford. Though fluent in six different languages, Filipe decided that he would feel at home only in Israel. After earning his university degree, he made Aliyah. After arriving in Israel, Felipe quickly joined the IDF, first starting at Michve Alon. Today, after excelling in the course, Felipe is serving in the Egoz unit, an elite unit that specializes in guerrilla warfare.
Not everyone at Michve Alon moved to Israel completely alone. Two cousins, Yoma and Daphna, immigrated together from India less than one year ago. For Yoma, enlisting to the IDF and learning Hebrew was only the first step in fulfilling her dream to be a soldier. In a few days, Yoma will start serving as a combat soldier in the Caracal battalion, a unit created to accommodate women seeking to join a combat unit and fight alongside men.
Zon, Felipe, Yoma and Daphna are only a few of the many lone soldiers in the IDF today. In fact, very soon, a new course will begin at Michve Alon, where hundreds of new immigrants will prepare for their successful and meaningful service in the IDF.