March 14, 2007 / 24 Adar 5767
Joel Jabiles (23) grew up in a very Zionist environment in Lima, Peru. He attended Jewish day school until the age of 17, and was an active member in the Young Zionist (Hanoar Hatzioni) youth movement. "I learned Hebrew, Jewish history, Zionism and Jewish studies at school," says Joel. "I was really into current events in Israel, and as I got older I knew that I would eventually make aliyah. "
Joel visited Israel a few times before making the fateful decision in February, 2004 to move to Israel alone. "My father is a dentist and my mother is a travel agent. They are really settled in Lima, but they supported me one hundred percent. "
Joel went directly to a Jewish Agency Kibbutz Ulpan, where he worked and studied Hebrew for five months. " I met so many people, many from South America, and had a great time,"says Joel. In July, 2005 Joel was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces. He served in a combat unit, and carried out a number of dangerous missions in the Gaza Strip. During the recent Lebanon War his unit was brought from Gaza to the Lebanese border, but they did not enter Lebanon.
While serving as a lone soldier, Joel was matched with an Israeli family through the Jewish Agency 's At Home Together program. " They were wonderful to me," says Joel. "They sent me packages, and I went there for Friday night dinner when I was on leave. They really took me under their wing."
After completing his army service, Joel hopes to study film or communications at Tel Aviv University. He studied civil engineering at college in Peru, but does not want to return to that field. Joel plans to work to support his studies, and is confident that he will succeed in building a good life in Israel.