How Do You Become an IDF Soldier?

Every year, thousands of soldiers — from Israel and all around the world — join the Israel Defense Forces. The one thing that nearly all IDF soldiers have in common is their draft day experience.

New Uniforms

New IDF recruits put on their uniforms for the first time

What’s the first day like?

If you, too, are joining the IDF soon, or even thinking about doing so, perhaps you’ve wondered what your first day will be like. Here’s a brief preview of what will be a memorable day.

1. Recruitment Bureau: On the morning of your draft day, you will report to the location indicated on your draft notice. That place is called a “Lishkat Giyus” (Recruitment Bureau). They’re all around the country.

2. The Bakum: From your draft location, you’ll be taken by bus with other draftees to a base known as the Bakum. There you’ll begin your transition from civilian to soldier. At the Bakum, someone will always be available to help you move from station to station if you get confused.

(Men, if your hair is too long, you’ll get it cut at the Bakum. This is the military, after all. Ladies, you’ll have to put it in a topknot or ponytail if it’s over shoulder-length.)

3. Say Cheese! Stand in line to take a photograph for your army ID card. Rumor has it whoever smiles in their photograph will become an officer… act accordingly.

Photo ID

A new IDF recruit poses for the photo that will appear on his military ID

4. Personal Interview: After that, you’ll move on to one-on-one interviews, questionnaires, waivers and consent forms — sign here, date there, sign here again.

5. Biometric: Then you’ll have your fingerprints scanned, teeth x-rayed, blood samples taken, immunizations injected. Nothing hurts too much, we promise!

6. Soldier Up! Then it will be time for you to dress like a soldier. Shirts, pants, boots, socks and more — throw everything in your kit bag and move to the dressing rooms. At first, you won’t know how to wear your uniform properly, how to lace your boots or how to fold your beret. Word will spread about proper techniques — all the new recruits help each other.

(Take note — army sizes are really weird. Just see whatever fits you, don’t worry about the numbers.)

Getting Uniforms

IDF recruits are handed their new army uniforms

7. Pause: The important thing is that you take a moment to look up at the mirror and see yourself in an IDF uniform. Congratulations — you’re now officially a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces.

8. And, Go: Don’t just stand there, though. In the army, being on time is of great importance. A bus will be waiting for you to take you to your basic training base.

Here to Help

To all the aspiring Israel Defense Forces soldiers: The IDF is here to help.

If you have questions about joining the IDF, please visit The website is maintained by IDF soldiers who were once new immigrants to Israel, and they have a great deal of knowledge and experience to share.

For personal questions, email

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