After beating coronavirus, US volunteer looks to join IDF

19-year-old immigrant from New Jersey volunteers with canine search and rescue unit in Israel as he prepares to join IDF.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Bram Settenbrino with his dog Danna
Bram Settenbrino with his dog Danna

Bram Settenbrino’s journey to Israel has been anything but boring.

In less than two years Bram, who hails from Passaic, New Jersey managed to join the IDU (Israel Dog Unit), an elite Israeli civilian K9 unit, together with his search-and-rescue (SAR) dog, Danna, finding two missing people.

How many 19 year-old American kids could boast rescuing or recovering two missing persons? If that was not enough, Bram’s impressive finds came after police and other rescue units surrendered and retired frustrated from the searches, telling him and the other IDU volunteers, “go home, the missing person is not here, you are wasting your time”.

Bram accomplished all of this while on off days from his pre-military academy yeshiva studies at Mechinat Keshet Yehudah in the Golan Heights and taking care of his elderly grandparents in Jerusalem.

Like many other IDU volunteers, Bram is a passionate Zionist, with a burning love for the Jewish people and a special sense of calling with the courage of his convictions.

The IDU has plenty of dedicated young Jews from North America, who left the good-life of comforts in the west to immigrate to Israel and to engage in meaningful life-saving activities with Israel’s lead Search and Rescue outfit, where they get all kinds of training which they put to good use once they join the IDF, and which gives them an edge over their Israeli counterparts who compete to enter into Israel’s finest combat units.

However, one thing that sets Bram apart from some of his fellow “IDUniks” was the fact that he contracted corona as “Patient #260” in Israel, and spent more than a month in a “Corona Hotel” recuperating.

This provided a special opportunity as Bram and the IDU offered to send his sniffing service dog, Danna, in with him, where they could commence trial coronavirus diagnosis by sniffing dogs.

This proposal was made to Yaakov Litzman, the former Minister of Health.

Despite this unique opportunity and a detailed program which was submitted to Litzman personally and which was backed up by world class dog experts from around the world, the proposal went unanswered.

None of this discouraged Bram from rushing to Israel’s Ministry of Interior to formally immigrate to Israel in his quest to move onto his next set of battlegrounds in the IDF.

Bram received his Teudat Zehut – Israeli ID card - last week. He will soon be a Chayal Boded, a lone soldier in the IDF, as he continues to live in the Israel Dog Unit base in Kfar Tapuach in Samaria, hoping to continue to save lives with his dog Danna, during furloughs from the IDF, like other lone soldiers in the unit, who participated in IDU operations, before, during and after their IDF service.