November 15, 2015

A Family for Life

V’shavu  banim l’gvulam….and the sons have returned home.

We must have belted out this song dozens of times in the last few months when we hosted my daughter’s newest ‘family’ for meals.

Shlomo Katz singing this song. Our rendition is more boisterous and involves lots of clapping and cheering!

In August, Aviva left her beloved ‘adopted’ Ethiopian soldiers to assist new olim in the Garin Tzabar program.

Garin Tzabar, founded in 1991, was established to help young adults moving to Israel and joining the IDF. The new immigrants are housed on kibbutzim and in absorption centres across the country. 

They are adopted by Israeli families, given a Hebrew course and are prepared for army life by enthusiastic young soldiers. The Garin Tzabar organization proudly claims to be a “Family for Life.”

This past August, 350 olim arrived. They are between the ages of 18 to 23. Interestingly, 320 were not religious, while 30 came from a religious background. This in itself is food for thought as it may represent who today’s Zionists are. Leaving behind one’s family, language, culture and comforts is a huge step and Garin Tzabar is there to offer a soft, secure landing. 

It all started with special greetings at the airport. A day of great fanfare, dignitaries and the famous Israeli singer Idan Raichel greeted the new immigrants.

As a soldier, Aviva was assigned a group of 15 chanichim (campers) who were religious and who came from Britain, South Africa, France, Germany and the US (hmmm, no Canadians?….). Her group also included two Chabadniks who arrived complete with black hats and a passion for learning Tanya. 

After her first day, Aviva excitedly called me to say she was witnessing a new form of Zionism. I could not agree more. Despite all odds: the constant Israel bashing internationally; the wars; the terror threats; and the fearfulness of many Jews living outside of Israel, these young people came with such enthusiasm, they even inspired the Israelis they met.  

Being in their early twenties, they have chosen the ideal time to make this important move. After their army service, they will be fully fluent in Hebrew and will have acclimatized culturally. Army service seems to be a prerequisite to opportunity here in Israel.

These Lone Soldiers were assigned to Kibbutz Ma’ale Gilboa, a sweet place set on a mountaintop in the Beit She'an Valley. The kibbutz will be this group’s home for the next three years, until they complete their army service. 

The kibbutz families were so excited about the new arrivals, they practically had to compete to gain a new recruit. They did a sort of ‘speed dating,’ inviting the olim for meals until everyone found a fit. The families will act as their new parents for the next three years.

And so the group settled into life on the kibbutz. Aviva took them to the bank, government offices, army meetings and helped sort them through the red tape and bureaucracy that just ‘is.’ She taught them Hebrew and took them on trips across the country. 

They bonded together like glue and now, three months later, they are about to leave each other to enter into service. They will be going into various units in the army and are excited to be living and serving in Israel. They have boundless energy, love and enthusiasm for their new home. They will be family to each other, their group leaders and to the kibbutz for life.

They are our heroes.  V’shavu  banim l’gvulam.

This video was made especially for this inspiring group. We wish them much success in their army service.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely photos. Warm greetings from Montreal, Canada. I wish you peace and joy!


Your comments are always welcome.