Jewish youth from the United States who have background in computers and who want to serve in the IDF will now have a new program where they will be able to serve in technological roles in the Computer Service Directorate.
The new recruitment program, named Garin Lotam, will be similar to the army’s Garin Tzabar program where Jews who immigrate to Israel serve a minimum of two years in the army, and are provided with housing and support.
The army has recently launched a marketing campaign aimed at potential new recruits and hopes to have its first orientation seminars in Los Angeles, New York and Miami in May where potential recruits will undergo initial screenings. Those who pass will be brought to Israel for the program.
According to the army, upon their arrival in Israel, participants will participate in a six-month long MASA gap-year program which will combine courses about Israel along with technology courses by the Computer Service Directorate. They will enlist by March 2018, and be assigned technological roles based on their capabilities. The army said that the most sought-after assignments, usually in the field of cyber defense, will be suitable only for the most highly qualified recruits.
While only 30 potential recruits will be accepted to the experimental program, if the pilot is successful, it will be expanded
Garin Lotam is being established in conjunction with Big Idea, an international technology summer camp located at the Meir Shfeya youth village near Caesarea as well as the Nir Ha’Emek Youth Village near Afula.
Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Immigrant Absorption Ministry are also involved in the program
There are currently 2,700 lone soldiers who came to Israel as part of the Nefesh B’Nefesh Lone Soldier Program, which, according to their website, was created with the goal of “providing assistance and support to new immigrants that are required to serve in the IDF.”
During their service, lone soldiers are entitled to additional assistance from the state, including monthly living stipends, discounts on electricity bills, exemption from municipal taxes, rental assistance or lodging provided by the Aguda Lemaan Hachayal (Soldier’s Welfare Association) and extra financial support for combat soldiers.
Once they complete their military service, lone soldiers receive a one-time lump-sum of NIS 6,000, the option to live for three months in a Beit Hachayal and preparation and financial help to complete their matriculation and psychometric exams.
But with no help or guidance through Israel’s bureaucracy, daunting even for those born in Israel, they face challenges with little or no assistance. And that has led to a significant number leaving Israel once they are done with their service.
According to a December report by the Knesset’s Research and Information Center, half of all lone soldiers left Israel immediately after completing their military service. Of the half that stayed, one-third left shortly thereafter.
However, with skills relevant to the most sought-after industry in Israel, the high-tech sector, these new immigrants might have it a bit easier than most.
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