“Garin Tzabar Gets it Done” – Garin Member, Kibbutz Yiftach 2010
"If you have the option to participate in the Garin Tzabar program, there is no better way to go."
We’ve now been living on the kibbutz for a week. I can say with full certainty that this was the best decision I’ve made yet in regard to the army. I cannot state enough how important it is for a lone soldier, particularly one who does not speak fluent Hebrew nor fully grasp the cultural differences between Israel and America to have a support network in place.
In the last week I set up an Israeli bank account, got myself on a phone plan, set up my pre-army Health-care, got my Teudat Zehut (National Identity card), got my paperwork in for the Ministry of Absorption’s funding, took care of the paperwork for my driver’s license, and passed through my Tsav Reeshone (the army’s initial testing). Had I done these things by myself they would have taken me five months. There are even two female army soldiers on the kibbutz whose sole job in the army is to teach us Hebrew and make sure we are getting settled properly with everything we need.
Naturally, it is not without a cost. I’m stuck on a kibbutz (albeit a beautiful one with breathtaking views and wonderful people) 3 hours north of Tel Aviv and hitchhiking with Kibbutz members is the only way to get from the bus stop to the kibbutz. The fact remains, however, that I moved to Israel not to get drunk in Tel Aviv but to join the army, and Garin Tzabar, and particularly the gentleman charged with our care here (Nissan) has done an incredible job of that. While most Garins go into the city to take care of such things as phones and bank accounts, he actually brought the companies to the kibbutz, which is unheard of. In a country where people are beyond pushy, we have never waited in a line when Nissan is around. He is the kind of person who unapologetically makes it happen.
To anyone who is thinking of joining the army any other way, I suggest strongly against it. If you have the option to participate in the Garin Tzabar program, there is no better way to go.