Are you a new immigrant to Israel who wants to draft to the IDF? Daunted by the bureaucracy and impossible Hebrew?
That’s where Private Leron Ergas comes in. The 27-year-old from Los Angeles, California is the IDF coordinator for new immigrants. His sole job in the IDF is to help new immigrants — olim hadashim, in Hebrew — navigate each step of joining the IDF, whether in English, Spanish and Hebrew.
“We are pioneers in this idea,” said Ergas, who’s manned the position in the Meitav unit since February of 2012. Until a few years ago, new immigrants who wished to join the IDF had to navigate the entire process by themselves, without a special contact who could help them. Leron explains:
“We are experiencing exponential growth. When we help one oleh he tells his friends, who in turn tell their friends and so on and so forth. We can do everything from A to Z for the prospective soldiers. Today, there are three times the amount of assistance requests than there were when this position first began just one year ago.”
Until their draft day, Leron can offer draftees much-needed bureaucratic assistance. If necessary, he will attend a new immigrant’s Tzav Rishon (initial army interview) to help smooth the way. Once basic training begins, Leron transfers a soldier’s files to their social worker on base.
Eager to Serve
Per army law, every new immigrant of military age has one year to acclimate to Israeli culture and learn some Hebrew before being drafted.
Not every immigrant wants to wait that long. Any oleh who wants to waive their year of acclimation and draft early may do so if they file a request and receive IDF approval.
“One guy came to us with his suitcase in-hand, having just arrived in a cab from the airport ready to draft,” Leron recalled. “Although we admired his enthusiasm, we had to turn him away and suggest that he join an ulpan [Hebrew learning course] beforehand.”
Ergas is glad to have found meaningful service in the IDF.
“Although I am busy working potential draftees cases all day long, it pleases me to know I am busy because people from around the world are coming to Israel to serve.”
More information about drafting as a lone soldier can be found at: