Hannah Katz – Kibbutz Kvutzat Yavne 201424th January 2020
“There is no other way I could have imagined this journey without the help of Garin Tzabar”
“The first question people would ask me in Israel was WHY would an American girl make Aliyah to serve in the military? To me, the answer is simple and clear: as Jews, regardless of geographical location, we have a responsibility to contribute to the fabric of our people’s history and narrative. For me, that meant joining the IDF and living the dream of thousands of Jews who came before me. A person is defined through his or her actions, and I believe that those actions must reflect the set of values central to that person. I understood that Israel serves as the critical homeland for the Jewish people, and that it would be an honor to help defend it.
There is no other way I could have imagined this journey without the help of Garin Tzabar. I essentially had no network in Israel, and had no idea how to move there and join the Army. Not only did Garin Tzabar provide me with logistical help from making Aliyah to opening a bank account to successfully taking all of the army tests, but they also provided me with the essential support system and family to guide me during my time in Israel. In December 2014, I made Aliyah with Garin Tzabar and moved to Kvutzat Yavne with 30 other lone soldiers. I was paired with an incredible host family who dropped me off at the bus stop at 6 am on Sunday mornings, attended all of my army ceremonies, cooked me gluten free food for Shabbat (and even cake for the week!), and most importantly, served as my new family in Israel. To this day, my best friends in Israel are my friends from my Garin, and my host family at the Kibbutz is still my Israeli family.
I drafted to the IDF in April 2015 as an infantry instructor and specialized in training combat soldiers how to use five weapons, including shoulder missiles and grenade launchers. Having the opportunity to have worked with the most incredible soldiers, on bases and units across Israel, provided me with the unique and unparalleled experience of gaining a sense of Israeli identity. My experience in the army allowed me to view the strength of Israel from within and furthered my conviction surrounding the importance of defending our land. It taught me that the purpose of life is to live for a greater purpose, and to think about the soldier or friend next to you before you think about yourself.
I will be forever grateful to Garin Tzabar for being a vital piece to not only my journey, but to the journey of hundreds of lone soldiers, past, present and future.”