Soldiers from 29 different countries complete IDF Hebrew course

Soldiers who volunteered to enlist attend a Hebrew course at the Mikve Alon base, which helps integrate them into the IDF (Zahal) and become accustomed to Israeli society

Date: 15/07/2012, 6:11 PM     Author: Rotem Pesso

Dozens of volunteers from 29 different countries completed the special Hebrew course offered at the Mikve Alon base last week in a special ceremony. Head of the Manpower Directorate, Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai, Chief Education Officer, Brig. Gen. Eli Shermeister, and Mikve Alon base commander, Lt. Col. Raz Karni attended the ceremony.

The Mikve Alon base is run by the Education Corps and helps new immigrant soldiers become accustomed to the IDF (Zahal) and better incorporate into Israeli society. The base offers education tracks and immigrant tracks enabling soldiers to complete 12 years of schooling, improve their Hebrew, and integrate into Israeli society and military service.

Of the soldiers honored at the ceremony, 47% will continue to field and combat units and the rest will go on to professional courses. “Additionally, 76% of the soldiers are lone soldiers who volunteered to move to Israeli in order to enlist, leaving behind the homes and families,” said a commander at the course, Cpt. Limor Shahar.

Arriving from 29 countries around the world, most of the soldiers moved to Israel from Europe, Africa, Australia, South America and the United States. Divided into three different companies based on their Hebrew level, they will also acquire a deeper connection to Israel, its heritage and culture.

Head of the Manpower Directorate, Brig. Gen. Barbivai said to the soldiers “Looking at you fills the heart with pride. You contribute to the Israeli society and the IDF (Zahal). Maj. Gen. Barbivai acknowledged the soldiers for their sacrifice, and spoke to several of them individually. “There are new immigrants around the world here, as well as many lone soldiers. The Manpower Directorate will do everything possible to enable you to complete a meaningful military serious, while providing you with all the necessary tools,” she promised.

Maj. Gen. Barbivai also addressed the uniqueness of the Mikve Alon base, which unites the new immigrants who wish to enlist. “This is an excellent opportunity for integration in Israeli society, and to reach out as a military and a society,” she added.

Volunteering to contribute and defend the country

Speaking with ten outstanding soldiers who excelled at the Hebrew course, the Chief Education Officer addressed the dedication and sacrifice displayed by the immigrants who elected to serve in the IDF (Zahal). “The soldiers made difficult, unusual decisions, and society relies on them,” explained Brig. Gen. Shermeister. 

One of the outstanding soldiers, Pvt. Ilan Mann, moved to Israel from Canada last October in order to contribute and partake in the IDF (Zahal). Before moving to Israel, he wrote scripts and speeches for the Parliament, he has a Bachelor’s degree in art and cultural studies and specializes in government and politics. “This is the best beginning for me. The commanders knew how treat and accept the new immigrants and lone soldiers in every aspect,” shared Pvt. Mann. “Here you get back what you give. This is a great opportunity not only to learn Hebrew but also to become a better soldier and a better person,” he added.

He hopes to serve in the Military Intelligence Crops or in one of the combat units. “When I moved to Israel I didn’t know Hebrew, and I wanted to come here and become part of the Jewish people. I want to build a life here and raise a family, to contribute and defend this country and just feel like one of you,” explained Pvt. Mann.