Lone Soldier personal errands day
Lone Soldier personal errands dayShachar Azran

Over 1,500 Lone Solders from 60 countries gathered recently in Tel Aviv for an exclusive one-stop personal Yom Siddurim, Hebrew for "errands day," organized by the Nefesh B’Nefesh – FIDF Lone Soldiers Program. From driving tests and banking to taxes and everything in between, the sometimes arduous process of maneuvering through Israeli bureaucracy was streamlined in a truly unique and exclusive day for all Lone Soldiers. The event was organized in cooperation with the IDF Human Resources Department, the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, the Ministry of Interior, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (JNF-Israel) and JNF-USA.

Special guests included Moshe Kahlon, Finance Minister of Israel; Sofa Landver, Minister of Immigrant Absorption of Israel; Aryeh Deri, Minister of the Development of the Negev and Galilee; Deputy Minister Michael Oren; MK Dr. Avraham Neguise, Chairman of the Immigration and Absorption Committee, as well as, MK Merav Ben-Ari, MK Yulia Malinovsky, and MK Yoel Razvozov. Lone Soldiers were complimented for their service to the state of Israel as over 40 representatives from various government departments and agencies assisted them with their every bureaucratic need.

All Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Lone Soldiers – immigrants who come to Israel without their immediate families and volunteer to serve in the IDF – are entitled once every two months to take a personal errands day. This day is an important opportunity to attend to personal affairs, such as bureaucratic paperwork, banking and other essential matters. However, for most Lone Soldiers this is often not a sufficient amount of time to complete their necessary errands, a problem which led to the initiation of this dedicated day. After the success of the inaugural Yom Siddurim back in 2014, the now yearly event has become an essential mainstay in assisting Lone Soldiers in adapting more easily to their new lives in Israel.

"As our Lone Soldiers Program continues to grow, we are proud to expand the ways we support our brave Lone Soldiers, such as helping them minimize the time they have to spend on personal errands during their precious time away from the army,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh. "For me it is an emotional experience to see these incredible Olim, speaking multiple languages, gathered under one roof, unified in Zionism and dedicated service. This day is aimed at showing them how grateful we are.”

The Nefesh B’Nefesh-FIDF Lone Soldiers Program successfully recruited the essential civilian agencies whose services are needed by Lone Soldiers to convene on the same day under one roof to assist the Lone Soldiers with their personal matters. Among the agencies that participated in the day were: the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, the Student Licensing Office, Ministry of Housing, Automobile License Authority, Israel Tax Authority, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Ha'aguda Lema'an Hachayal (The Soldier's Association), Discharged Soldiers Guidance Department, Electric Company of Israel, Ktzin Ha’ir (Municipal IDF officers) , the Post Office, Bank of Israel and more.

Addressing the 1,500 Lone Soldiers at the event, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon stated: "It is not a given that an 18-year-old would leave everything familiar and come alone to serve in an army across the world. The State of Israel is the home of all the Jewish people, and your home too, which is why you're here with us today. We love you and appreciate your service. This appreciation goes beyond mere words, which is why we increased your salary by 50%. It is not easy being away from home while serving in the army, not for native Israelis, and certainly not for Olim. We as a country will make every effort to assist you in your military service - and settle in the country to build your home with us here in Israel."

"The IDF provides all of its soldiers, and particularly its lone soldiers, with an extensive framework of support and services, which enables them to serve a full and meaningful military service,” said Maj. Gen. Moti Almoz, Head of Manpower Directorate in the IDF. “Today’s event, as well others throughout the year, are the result of our partnership with various organizations, which is a significant and important part of this framework. We will continue to work to provide soldiers with the best solutions and the best support possible as they prepare for their military service, throughout their service and upon their release."