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Frequently Asked Questions

#Family_For_Life

What is Tzofim Garin Tzabar?

Tzofim Garin Tzabar is a program that helps young Jews around the world to move to Israel and serve a significant service in the Israeli IDF as Lone Soldiers.

Sounds good! How much time will I have to serve?

Well, girls serve minimum of two years, three years if they want to do combat missions. Boys – if you’re 18-21, you’ll serve three years, if you’re 21-22 you’ll serve two and a half years, and above that you will serve two years. However, the exact amount of time changes from time to time according to the Israeli parliament decisions.

My Hebrew is really poor. I don't speak a word of Hebrew.
Can I still join?

Until 2011, if that was the case, you couldn’t join the program. Now you can, but it means that you will have to leave for Israel a month (or so) before the program starts in order to participate in a special Hebrew program (Ulpan). In the Summer session, the Pre-Ulpan is taking place in June-July.

How long is the program?

We have two sessions each year, a summer session and a shorter winter session. IDF service time varies according to gender, age and position and it is no less than two years.

Summer Session:

Preparation Seminars: January-May

Absorption Process: August-November

Enlistment: November

Winter Session:

Preparation Seminars: October-November

Absorption Process: December-March

Enlistment: March

Where are the Garin members from?

 All around the world! Most are from North America, but we have many Garin members from Europe, Australia, Africa, etc.

Does the program require me to have an Israeli citizenship?

You have to make Aliyah as part of the process. It doesn’t mean that you’ll have to stay after the army though.

I'm not sure if this is for me. When can I change my mind?

We invite you to come to our seminars, hear about the program, meet the people, ask your questions and then decide. This is what the seminars are for. Only after the last seminar you will have to give us an answer about whether or not you want to be a part of our program. But – this is not a volunteering program. Once you get to Israel and start the process with the army, you have to join the army.

Does this impact my other citizenship?

Not at all. You will have dual citizenship, and keep all rights.

Is the program mixed for men and women?

Yes, all Garinim are co-ed. The religious group keeps more separation than the non-religious groups, and in all Garinim there are separated accommodation arrangements.

What about the army program itself?

Similarly, the army has mixed activities and trainings. Accommodation is separated.

I'm religious. Can I be assigned to a Hesder or Nachal Haredi unit?

 No, it is a special program to Israelis. Garin Tzabar memebrs can not join those units.

Do girls see combat?

 If they choose to go to a combat unit or to serve in specific roles, then yes.

Can I choose my interest area, for example a medic, or is it assigned?

You are required to choose a desired job from a list of options that the army offers to each soldier-to-be, according to the individual skills and abilities. However, it mainly depends on the army needs, and we can not guarantee that you will get it for sure.

If it does not work out for me, can I resign?

You can resign until the moment you start the Absorption Process in Israel.

Do I receive a salary during the military service?

Yes, but the exact  amount depends on your position in the army. Plus, you don’t have to pay for an apartment/food/laundry etc., that’s all being taken care of by the kibbutz. For a full list of Lone Soldiers benfits, please click here.

What kibbutz am I going to?

We will know only in the last stages of the program, since it depends on the final size of the group. A religious group will go to a religious kibbutz.

Do we live with a family or in a dorm?

Dorm style accommodation, but you will have a host family in the community for Friday dinners etc.

How often do I have off for Shabbos and Yomim Tovim?

It depends on the army unit and specific position, it’s hard to tell.

What is the dress code for religious Garin? Do most of the religious girls wear pants or skirts?

In our seminars there is no dress code. Religious people dress as they dress back home, in Israel they will live in an Orthodox kibbutz and will have to dress properly.

What are the benefits of making Aliyah?

For a full benefits list, click here. For more information, please contact your local Shaliach Aliyah of the Jewish agency.

Can you tell me more about my options after the army?

Before the release from the army, Garin Tzabar holds a “Preparation for the Civilian Life Seminar”. In the seminar, you will get all the information about studies in Israel. In the meantime, you can find the informationhere.

I have many more questions. Who do I call?

 You are welcome to contact us according to where you are located! We have offices all over North America, Europe, Australia and Israel.

Is Garin Tzabar just for Israelis or Tzofim members?

Garin Tzabar is for young Jewish adults (18-24) who make Aliyah and wish to make Israel their home and serve a meaningful service in the IDF as Lone Soldiers.

If my son goes to the 1st seminar, is he committed to the IDF
or to making Aliyah?

No, he is just committed to attending the 1st seminar.

Is the food on Garin Tzabar seminars Kosher?

All food on Religious Garin (Garin Dati) seminars is certified Kosher. Food for non-religious Garin seminars is “Kosher Style” with vegetarian options – if you are not sure, talk about this with your Garin director.

Who chooses the Kibbutz/city, and when?

The program chooses the host locations, depending on the size of the group, the character of the group, and other defining details. This is done before the last seminar, but there are no guarantees that it will be set then.

What is the difference between the Garin Tzabar application and the Aliyah application?

 They are two different procedures that need to be done. The Aliyah process begins on the Nefesh B’Nefesh/Jewish Agency website or with you local Shaliach. The Garin Tzabar application is on our website, and is of the same importance. The two procedures may take some time, including medical reports, references, and other forms that we request.

Who is our contact person during this process?

During the Preparation Process, your contacts are the Garin directors in your location. After the last seminar, your contacts are the coordinators in Israel – the Kibbutz coordinator and the Tzofim coordinator. While the Garin Tzabar members are in Israel, you may contact the Israeli staff, as well as the offices in North America, Western Europe or Australia.

How and when do we see our children after they make Aliyah?
Can they visit Home? Can we visit them in Israel?

Each Lone Soldier has thirty days of vacation every year. He/She can split it into two trips: 15 days each. During the first year, you can use it to come visit them in Israel, or you can buy them a ticket to visit you at your countries. It is important to schedule it with their commander and retain permission from the commander. After the first year in the army, usually Lone Soldiers get around 80% of those ticket costs from Friends of the IDF (FIDF), but this is not guaranteed. If you want to come visit your Lone Soldier in Israel, you must schedule it with their Rakaz Kibbutz and they need to schedule it with their army commanders. 

For how long are the Garin members committed to the Kibbutz? How often can they visit friends and family in Israel?

The Garin members are committed to the Kibbutz for one year minimum, which begins the day they join the army (not the day they land in Israel). Usually, they decide to stay in the Kibbutz for more time, they feel the Kibbutz is their home, and they want to stay as part of the group. If they want they can move somewthere else in Israel after one year, on their own. During their time in Israel, they can visit friends and family. During the Absorption process, they can use their weekends off from the Kibbutz. During their army service, they can do it when they are off from the army on weekends, while letting the Kibbutz coordinator know where they are.

What if i’m not eligble to join?

 In case from some reason you are not eligible to join Garin Tzabar or want to join the IDF by yourself, there are other ways to join the IDF as Lone Soldiers, with the help of organizations such as Nefesh B’NefeshFIDFand Machal. Also, it is possible to “try” the army and experience the IDF life in short programs such as Marva.

Are you ready to go?

Click the "Apply" button and start your journey of becoming an IDF Lone Soldier