When many people hear the term “lone soldiers,” they often think of young adults who come from abroad who join the Israel Defense Forces without any family in Israel.

However, according to The Lone Soldier Center in Israel, a large number of lone soldiers – 45 % – are Israeli-born but without family support. The majority are from Haredi backgrounds, with severed ties to their family. Others are orphans, individuals who come from broken homes or victims of physical and emotional abuse.

These Israeli-born lone soldiers are categorized as lone soldiers by the IDF’s Welfare Department when they have no family to support or house them.

The majority of these come from insular, self-contained Yiddish-speaking enclaves and left home from these ultra-Orthodox communities in adolescence, according to The Lone Soldier Center.  

“Many ran away from home for self-preservation, or were thrown out of their homes and communities for not adhering to levels of religious observance and practice expected in this sector of Israeli society,” according to the center. “This population reaches adulthood entirely lacking formal education, mentors, role-models and positive adult influences in their lives.”

According to The Lone Soldier Center in Israel,  45 % of lone soldiers are Israeli-born without any family support.

The Lone Soldier Center, founded in memory of American lone soldier Michael Levin, helps ensure proper housing for these soldiers leading up to their draft into the IDF and also provides guidance and counseling, adoptive families who serve as mentors, financial assistance, vocational guidance, psychological support, academic tutoring and laptop computers.

In 2018, the Center supported more than 250 Israeli-born lone soldiers.

Another organization, Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers, is the only Israeli government sanctioned organization tasked with ensuring soldier welfare, also assists lone soldiers.

This past Passover, Yahad sponsored Passover seders and gifted lone and needy soldiers with special treats, including a blanket and prepaid shopping cards.

Nahal Haredi Organization helps Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) soldiers a place to call home during their military service as many are no longer welcome in their family’s homes after enlisting in the army.

The East Valley JCC’s Lone Soldier Project aims at providing support for both lone soldiers from abroad and Israeli-born soldiers. The Lone Soldier Campaign is currently in progress and culminates on May 16 at the East Valley JCC Yom Ha’atzmaut Celebration.

We hope to see you there!