October 21, 2007 / 9 Cheshvan 5768
When Ran Bar-Yoshafat found out that his army unit needed him to fight in the Second Lebonan War, he left his job as a counselor in Atlanta and flew back to Israel. The money he had hoped to earn over the summer was to pay for his college tuition. Fortunately, after the war he received the Jewish Agency's scholarship for soldiers called up for reserve duty. It was a lifesaver.
"The minute I knew that my special forces unit needed me I left the summer camp in Atlanta where I was working as a Jewish Agency counselor and went to fight in the Second Lebanon War. I lost all of my earning opportunities to pay for college, but serving my country was more important." - Ran Bar-Yoshafat
Ran Bar-Yoshafat, 24, grew up in Ramat Hasharon in central Israel. He is the youngest of three brothers, all of who completed their college education. During his high school years Ran was an excellent student and was involved in a martial arts educational program for army preparation.
During his active service in the Israel Defense Forces, Ran was chosen for the pilot's course, but left to serve in an elite ground force combat unit. In 2005, Ran was discharged from the army and planned to fulfill his dream of going to law school in September, 2006. But the Second Lebanon War threatened to destroy this dream.
For the second year in a row, Ran was working as a Jewish Agency summer camp counselor at a Jewish camp in Atlanta, Georgia. "I went to the US as a summer camp emissary to bring together Jews from Israel and the Diaspora. It is so important for us to get to know each other."
Ran was a counselor for 13-14 year old campers. His goal was to bring them closer to Israel. He organized different activities, including wall climbing in which the State of Israel was drawn on the wall and the rungs were different locations, an Israel trivia contest, and a treasure hunt with Israel as the theme.
When the war broke and Ran found out that his unit needed him, he packed his bags and was on a plane to Israel the same day. He immediately went to his army base and from there to Lebanon. "We fought in some very fierce battles," says Ran. "But we were all highly motivated to fight, even after 10 soldiers from our division were killed."
When the war ended, Ran had no idea how he was going to pay his college tuition for his first year of law school at Hebrew University. The Jewish Agency's scholarship for soldiers called up for reserve duty was a lifesaver. "I knew that I could work during the school year, but I didn't have the initial money to begin college. The scholarship gave me room to breathe. I am so grateful to the Jewish Agency and to the generous people who made this scholarship possible."
In July 2006, Ran Bar-Yoshafat and thousands of student reserve soldiers answered the urgent call to serve their country. They put themselves in physical danger to keep the people of Israel safe. They were therefore unable to work during the summer and lost the main source of their annual income for college. The Jewish Agency provided immediate scholarships for these soldiers to ensure that they can move forward and receive the college education they so richly deserve. To contribute to the Jewish Agency's ongoing efforts to help IDF soldiers, click here.