Army Service Programs 

Here is a list of programs through which new immigrants and volunteers from abroad can join the IDF

Mahal -- Mahal helps young Jewish men (ages 18-23) and women (ages 18-20) from all over the world volunteer and enlist in the IDF. Lone soldiers who enlist through Mahal are obligated by the IDF to serve 18 months (The IDF recently increased the time requirements for Mahal from 14 months to 18 months). You cannot make Aliyah or have made Aliyah and enlist through Mahal. Mahal helps all overseas residents in Israel eligible for IDF enlistment, including non-Israeli tourists, volunteers and students, Israeli citizens residing overseas, former Israelis residing overseas, children of former Israelis, non-Israelis with an Israeli parent, non-Israelis with parents living in Israel etc. Through Mahal, you will usually enlist in the IDF two months after your arrival in Israel where you will complete all the necessary pre-army testing and procedures. For more information, please visit their award winning website.

Mahal Hesder -- Mahal Hesder helps religious students from abroad enlist in the IDF into religious units. These lone soldiers learn in a Hesder Yeshiva for 6.5 months, and then serve in regular Hesder units for 14 months, totaling 21 months. For details, see the Mahal website.

Garin Mahal (formerly Aish Mahal) -- This is a track that is tailor-made for high school graduates and college students who love Israel and want to pursue their dream of serving in the Israeli army and are committed to not delaying their college studies beyond one academic year. Garin Mahal enlistees have the option of serving in units comprised of only religious soldiers or in integrated units together with secular soldiers. Garin Mahal will serve as an adoptive family to the Mahal soldiers, helping to support their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

Garin Tzabar -- Garin Tzabar is a unique program, founded in 1991 and run by Tzofim Tzabar Olami, with the support of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, The Prime Minister office, The Social Security Department, The Jewish Agency For Israel and Masa Israel Journey Project organization. The Garin Tzabar members are Jewish Americans and children of Israelis living in the Diaspora, who choose to move to Israel and serve in the IDF. Upon their arrival in Israel, the group is adopted by the Israel Scouts and placed in a hosting kibbutz that quickly becomes their home away from home throughout the duration of their army service. 

Garin Tzabar was created in order to become a supportive social shell for Lone Soldiers, by continued guidance, building and maintaining the group as a 'Garin'.

Garin Tzabar and machal Lone soldiers army programGoals: 

1.Providing support and advice during the emotional dilemmas that might arise, and structuring the core social foundations of the 'Garin' prior to moving to Israel. 
2.Providing a framework for the personal, group, military, educational and bureaucratic aspects during the absorption process. 
3.Providing individual and group support, as well as guidance during significant military service
4.Fostering and maintaining the unique alumni network; which continues to develop and empower 'Garin' members. 
Description of the program:
To create a group framework of guidance and support for young Jews and Israelis living abroad who choose to return to Israel or make Alyah for the first time in order to serve a full and meaningful service in the IDF. This is done by a mental and emotional preparation process that starts in the countries of origin and continues with their arrival to Israel and their absorption into the Kibbutzim, Israeli society and through the processes of military pretrial recruitment. The core of the program is carried out during their military service where they continue to live as a group and receive from the group constant guidance and support.

Program Stages:

1.The Preparation Process
In this initial stage, the prospective Garin members are identified by the shlichim (emissaries) of the Israel Scouts and the Alyia shlichim all around the world. The group meets for preparation seminars throughout the year, during which all issues pertaining to the move to Israel are discussed and reflected upon, including study of the cultural, political and social characteristics of Israel and a thorough introduction to the IDF and its social  ole in Israeli society. Each individual is encouraged to undergo a personal process of maturation towards moving to Israel and joining the IDF.
2.The Absorption Process in Israel
The first three months in Israel are dedicated to absorption in the kibbutz, Hebrew Ulpan studies (for those who need supplementary Hebrew studies) and handling of all the bureaucratic issues of absorption in Israel and the IDF.
3.Service in the IDF
Upon joining the army, each Garin member follows his/her individual path within the IDF system. The Garin continues to exist as a support group and members continue to meet in the kibbutz over weekends, during the holidays and on time off from the army. All Garin staff – both from the kibbutz and from the Israel Scouts, continue to work with all members throughout their army service period. Additional seminars and programs are designed and implemented to maintain the framework of the Garin.

Civilian Volunteer Army Programs

These two programs allow non-Israelis from around the world to experience what service in the IDF is like for a short period of time.

Marva -- Marva is an IDF program that allows young Jews to learn and experience the basics of IDF and Israeli life. The program lasts between seven to eight weeks and each week, students are stationed at a different base. This program is open to participants from all over the world.  The program is conducted in simple Hebrew, allowing for significant improvement of Hebrew skills. Activities range from camp craft, navigation, and topography to hikes, lectures, seminars and walking tours, Volunteering in the IDF participation in training exercises, and being in the field. Emphasis is placed on Israel’s security situation during lectures on specific social and political issues. Applicants should be Jewish tourists between the ages of 18-28. A working knowledge of Hebrew is required (must complete ulpan level aleph). Marva is a physically and mentally demanding program. Applicants are expected to be in excellent physical health and must be highly motivated. It is necessary to undergo a personal interview prior to acceptance.‏

Sar-El -– Sar-El is a short-term three-week volunteer program that enables participants to volunteer and live with Israelis and volunteers from all over the world on army bases in Israel. Volunteers will work alongside or under the direction of Israeli soldiers and perform duties such as packing food rations or medical kits, cleaning tanks, painting helmets, radio repairs, gas mask refurbishment, changing spare parts, gardening, or cleaning. Volunteers live on the army  in barracks (4-8 per room) during the week and are free on weekends (Friday & Saturday)for touring Israel. In the evenings, there are various activities and educational presentations on such topics as the Hebrew language, Israel's history, Jewish holidays and traditions, and social and political issues in Israel.


Army Courses for Olim Israeli Enlistment Tracks Religious Female Programs Atuda/Atudat Olim

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