Lone Soldiers of the IDF

The lone soldier, or chayal boded in Hebrew, is unique to the IDF and to Israel. What motivates young men and women from all over the world to volunteer for military service so far from their homes? And why are some local Israeli recruits also Lone Soldiers? Explore the connection that draws young Jews from around the world to Israel every year to voluntarily join the IDF and find out how Israelis have been supporting these soldiers dating back to Israel’s War of Independence in 1948. After watching the video, use the prompts below to learn more and get your students thinking.

  • Review
  • Discussion
  • Activities
  • Reflection
  • Further Learning
  1. How do you say lone soldiers in Hebrew?
    • Chayalim Bashetach
    • Jobnik
    • Chayalim Bodedim
    • Kravi
  2. Around what percentage of active IDF soldiers are lone soldiers?
    • 1%
    • 4%
    • 20%
    • 50%
  3. True or false? The IDF is the military with the highest percentage of lone soldiers.
    • True 
    • False
  4. In Israel’s War of Independence, how many different countries did the over 3000 volunteers come from to serve in the IDF?
    • 10
    • 56
    • 25
    • 40
  5. Which three countries do the majority of lone soldiers come from?
    • USA, Canada, Russia
    • USA, Russia, Argentina
    • Russia, South Africa, England
    • Russia, France, Australia
  1. For what reasons do you think young Jews volunteer as lone soldiers in the IDF? Do you identify with any of these reasons?
  2. Are you surprised that the IDF has more lone soldiers (per capita) serving in its ranks than any other country? Why or why not?
  3. Why do you think some lone soldiers face more mental health challenges than non-lone soldiers in the IDF?
  4. Lone soldiers are assigned host families who serve as their Israeli family during their service and afterwards as well. Why do you think thousands of Israeli families open their homes and hearts to young Jews they have never met before?
  1. Watch one of our other videos about the IDF and utilize the accompanying educational resources:
  2. Launched in 1991, Garin Tzabar is a program that supports young Jews (aged 18-24) from around the world who make aliyah and serve as lone soldiers in the IDF. Over 5000 young Jews have participated in the program and have served in over 40 different units in the military. Along with supporting lone soldiers before and during their service, Garin Tzabar aims to provide structure and support for the absorption of lone soldiers within Israeli society. Read this article by Julia Spiegal, a participant in the program. After reading the article, what is your impression of IDF service as a lone soldier?
  3. Max Steinberg, a young Jew from Los Angeles served as a lone soldier in the IDF and was killed in battle during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. Max’s parents were shocked at his funeral when 30,000 Israelis (who didn’t personally know him) showed up to pay their respects. Watch this video tribute to Max Steinberg and discuss the following questions:
    • What do you make of Max’s parents’ reaction to the large crowd at the funeral?
    • Why do you think 30,000 Israelis showed up to Max’s funeral even though they didn’t personally know him? What does this teach us about Israeli society?
  4. Give your students our Kahoot on Lone Soldiers of the IDF!

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